Lung cancer screening available for heavy smokers aged 55 to 74


A study conducted at 33 centers nationwide showed that low-dose CT scanning of heavy smokers resulted in a 20 percent decrease in mortality from lung cancer.

Between August, 2002 and April, 2004, the National Lung Screening Trial enrolled more than 53,000 people at high risk of developing lung cancer. They were randomly assigned to receive either low-dose CT scanning or a chest X-ray as a means to detect lung cancer. Data were collected on the participants through 2009. Deaths from lung cancer were reduced by 20 percent in the group who underwent the low-dose CT scans. The results were published this summer in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“I think all of us who were working on it were very pleased,” says Kay Vydareny, MD, professor emerita of thoracic radiology, who was the principal investigator at the Emory University School of Medicine site. “It seemed to have such strong conclusions for the narrow age range we were studying.” That age range was 55 to 74.

Emory Healthcare began offering low-dose CT scans in August to screen current and former heavy smokers aged 55 to 74. Vydareny explains that there is likely to be a high rate of false positives – that is, scans may suggest a lesion or mass that likely will turn out to be benign. Those who wish to be scanned should be braced for that possibility, she says, because false positives can cause anxiety and often necessitate further testing.

If you or someone you know is interested in having a low-dose CT scan, and you are between 55 and 74 and have been a heavy smoker, call 404-686-LUNG, or visit:

Table of Contents

Winship Magazine