UPDATE 2-‘Spiral’ CT scans reduce smoker deaths – US study

* Trial of 53,000 smokers stopped

* Study is first to show screening works for lung cancer

* Scans could save “thousands of lives”
(Adds quotes, more background)

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON, Nov 4 (BestGrowthStock) – “Spiral” CT scans cut lung
cancer deaths in smokers by 20 percent, researchers reported on
Thursday in a finding that validates a controversial theory
that screening can save lives.

The low-dose scans, a type of X-ray that gives a more
complete picture of the lung, apparently catch tumors early,
before they have spread, a team sponsored by the U.S. National
Cancer Institute found.

The trial of more than 53,000 current and former heavy
smokers found the CT scans were better than an ordinary chest
X-ray at spotting tumors.

Critics of the scans fear that smokers may not be motivated
to quit if they believe screening can save their lives if they
do get cancer.

The middle-aged and elderly smokers were scanned with
either three spiral CTs a year or one annual chest X-ray
starting in August 2002. They were followed for five years.

As of last month, 354 people who got CTs had died of lung
cancer, compared to 442 who got ordinary X-rays. This worked
out to a 20.3 percent lower risk of dying for the spiral CT
group and the researchers stopped the study.

The researchers said their findings could save thousand of
lives. Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer worldwide,
killing 1.2 million people a year globally and it will kill
157,000 people in the United States alone this year, according
to the American Cancer Society.

Caught early, lung cancer can be cured surgically, but it
causes vague symptoms and usually is not diagnosed until it has
spread. Only 15 percent of lung cancer patients live 5 years or
more.

A STIR

In 2006, Dr. Claudia Henschke of New York Presbyterian
Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center caused a stir when she
published a study saying that 80 percent of lung-cancer deaths
could be prevented through widespread use of spiral CT.

Her ideas were controversial to start with and widely
discredited when other researchers found her work had been paid
for by a tobacco company.

“This is the first time that we have seen clear evidence of
a significant reduction in lung cancer mortality with a
screening test in a randomized controlled trial,” Dr. Christine
Berg of the National Cancer Institute said in a statement.

Almost all advanced CT scanners can perform a spiral CT,
and about 60 percent of U.S. hospitals have such a machine.
Makers include General Electric Co’s (GE.N: ) GE Healthcare
Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE: ), Toshiba Corp (6502.T: ), Hitachi (6501.T: )
and Philips (PHG.AS: ).

Dr. Denise Aberle, who led the study, said it provided
“objective evidence” of the benefits of low-dose scans in
older, high-risk people and suggests if it is “implemented
responsibly, and individuals with abnormalities are judiciously
followed, we have the potential to save thousands of lives.”

But Aberle added that with the high association between
lung cancer and cigarette smoking, “the single best way to
prevent lung cancer deaths is to never start smoking, and if
already smoking, to quit permanently.”

About 10 percent of smokers develop lung cancer, but
smoking causes other cancers as well as heart disease and
stroke.

A fact sheet on spiral CT can be found at
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/spiral-ct-lung
(With additional reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago;
Editing by Vicki Allen)

UPDATE 2-‘Spiral’ CT scans reduce smoker deaths – US study