Chest X ray for lung cancer fails to improve survival compared to no screening: Study

October 01, 2017

CT scans provide a more detailed picture of the lungs than chest X-rays so they are better able to identify small tumors, said study author Christine Berg, chief of the Early Detection Research Group at the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Prevention in Rockville, Maryland. ???The problem was it [X ray] wasn't finding lung cancer at a small enough size,??? she said. ???Lung cancer is a very aggressive disease so you have to find it very small in order to cut it out and cure it.???

In the future, X-rays may play a role in lung cancer screening if the technology improves enough to detect smaller tumors. CT scans can be problematic because they can identify many suspicious nodules that aren't positive, Berg added. They're also more costly. Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled, pays about $350 to $370 for a CT scan Institutions generally $750 to $1,000 for the scan while most insurers pay $50 to $100 for an X-ray, she said.

Neither the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in medicine, nor the American Cancer Society recommend screening for lung cancer. Berg said recommendations for the U.S. task force may be available by the end of 2012.

The American Lung Association will have recommendations on lung cancer screening in about three months, said Norman Edelman, the Washington-based group's chief medical officer. ???Lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer. It's a devastating disease. The cure rates are small,??? he said. ???We certainly need better tools to deal with lung cancer. There is a hope that catching lung cancer early will increase survivability. We need a lot more research.???