Posted by Bill Sandweg on 28 October 2011.
The earlier that lung cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully. For a long time, it was believed that annual chest x-rays were a good way to detect lung cancer early. Of course, the true test of whether annual chest x-rays are effective is whether they help lung cancer victims live longer. The unfortunate news is that it appears they do not.
The question of the survival benefit of routine chest x-ray screening has the the subject of debate for many years. To address the issue, a study was begun in which healthy patients were placed in one of two groups. One group received annual chest x-rays while the other received no screening at all. Four years later, the chest x-ray group had more patients diagnosed with lung cancer but there was no significant difference in the number of deaths from lung cancer between the two groups.
The conclusion of the study’s authors was that while chest x-rays allowed lung cancer to be diagnosed earlier, it was still not early enough for treatment to make a difference in the likelihood of successfully treating the cancer.
The study appeared in the November 2, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and was led by Dr. Mrtin Oken of the University of Minnesota.