Finding needles in a haystack: annual low-dose computed tomography screening reduces lung cancer mortality in a high-risk group

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Evaluation of: Aberle DR, Adams AM, Berg CD et al.; National Lung Screening Trial Research Team. Reduced lung-cancer mortality with low-dose computed tomographic screening. N. Engl. J. Med. 365(5), 395–409 (2011).

Lung cancer is a global health issue. Compared with other common malignancies, the prognosis is poor as many patients present with advanced disease. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) aimed to identify and treat early lung cancers using annual low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening in a high-risk group. When compared with chest x-ray screening, low-dose CT screening reduced lung cancer mortality by 20%; the NLST is the first lung cancer screening trial to demonstrate such a mortality benefit. However, we must wait for cost–effectiveness data from the NLST, as well as the results of ongoing European studies comparing low-dose CT with observation alone, before firm conclusions can be drawn regarding the overall benefits of introducing a CT screening program to clinical practice.

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