The researchers estimated that 8.6 million Americans met the NLST criteria for lung cancer screening in 2010—up from 7 million identified in the NLST.
Screening all current and former heavy smokers could prevent over 12,000 lung cancer deaths a year, according to a new study published in Cancer.1 The study, funded by the American Cancer Society, arrived at that number based on data from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST),2 which found that heavy smokers—those with at least a 30 pack-year history of smoking—who received low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening had a 20% lower chance of dying from lung cancer than those who received chest x-rays.
Using data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey and the 2010 U.S. Census, and applying the NLST criteria for patients aged 55-74 years with at least a 30 pack-year history of smoking who were either current smokers or had quit in the last 15 years, the researchers estimated that 8.6 million Americans met the NLST criteria for lung cancer screening in 2010—up from 7 million identified in the NLST.
If the low-dose CT screening program adopted in the NLST was universally implemented among the screening-eligible population, concluded the researchers, a total of 12,250 lung cancer deaths, 8,990 in men and 3,260 in women, would be averted each year. ■
1. Ma J, Ward EM, Smith R, et al: Annual number of lung cancer deaths potentially avertable by screening in the United States. Cancer 119(7): 1381-1385, 2013.
2. National Lung Screening Trial Research Team, Aberle DR, Adams AM, et al: Reduced lung-cancer mortality with low-dose computed tomographic screening. N Engl J Med 365: 395-409, 2011.