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Editorials |

To Screen or Not To Screen

Robert J. Lenox, MD
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: Syracuse, NY
 ,  Dr. Lenox is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Correspondence to: Robert J. Lenox, MD, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, 750 E Adams St, Syracuse, NY 13210; e-mail: lenoxr@upstate.edu



Chest. 2005;127(4):1091-1092. doi:10.1378/chest.127.4.1091
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Lung cancer is the number-one killer among cancers. During 2002, 550,000 Americans died of cancer. Of these cancer deaths, lung cancer killed 161,400 or 29% of the total. Of those who acquire lung cancer, only 12 to 15% will be cured. Lung cancer kills more Americans than the next three most deadly cancers (breast, colon, and prostate) combined.1

Despite these sobering statistics, screening for lung cancer is not done. Three lung cancer screening studies24 were published in the 1980s and failed to show a decrease in the overall mortality of those screened. Since the publication of these studies, there have been advances in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of lung cancer. Most notable, from a screening standpoint, is the availability of CT scanning for the detection of lung cancer. This has led to nonrandomized studies5 designed to assess the utility of screening for lung cancer with CT scans of the chest. Nonrandomized studies6 using low-dose CT scans have shown an ability to detect smaller lung cancers than those detected by chest radiographs. This has led some to advocate screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT of the chest.7

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