This blog often discusses situations where health care providers do something wrong or fail to do something which should have been done. The issue of whether smokers should get regular lung scans may not fall in either of the situations mentioned in my first sentence.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has concluded that lung-cancer screening with CT scans does not save lives. Last fall, a major study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded just the opposite. The American Cancer Society simply advises patients to discuss the pros and cons of scanning with their doctor.
What should you do? The answer will vary with each patient and depend on facts too varied to discuss in this short post. It is clear from the medical literature that CT scans do help in finding early cancer. However, the problem lies in the fact that it is unclear whether early detection prolongs patients’ lives or merely subjects them to unnecessary procedures and risks.
Read the studies for yourself:
· JAMA article
· NEJM article (summary)
· American Cancer Society’s position