What is the evidence that lung cancer screening saves lives?

The latest research from I-ELCAP shows that patients diagnosed with lung cancer as a result of annual CT screening have an overall cure rate of 80%, regardless of stage and type of treatment. When cancers are found at the earliest stage (85% of the patients) and are immediately removed with surgery, the research shows a cure rate of 92%. The research involves over 31,000 patients who are considered to be at risk for lung cancer due to a combination of their age and histories of cigarette smoking, occupational exposure to carcinogens, or exposure to second-hand smoke (New England Journal of Medicine 2006: 355: 1763-1771).

The initial findings of the ELCAP team, published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, and on July 9, 1999 on the front page of The New York Times, showed that 85% of the cancers that are found with CT screening are small and in the more curable early stage.

Chest x-rays done at the same time failed to reveal 85 percent of the early-stage cancers detected by the CT scans. The ELCAP team also developed procedures and analytic techniques for highly accurate assessment of tumor growth, significantly reducing the chances of unnecessary additional tests and treatments.

It was already well-known that small early stage lung cancers are much more curable than those found in later stages as 10-year survival rates of 90% or more had been reported by others.