Most physicians agree that discovering lung cancer early is critical to saving lives. Over 200,000 people receive lung cancer diagnoses annually and this remains a leading causes of U.S. cancer deaths.
For the first time, a large retrospective population study, conducted by researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, demonstrated this. The study results, reported in JAMA Network Open, proved that discovering non-small cell lung cancers earlier (NSCLC) saved lives. Prior studies have explored the association of smoking cessation, earlier interventions, and targeted therapies to address NSCLC mortality, but not the effect of earlier detection.
The study’s lead author Dr Raja M. Flores of Mount Sinai Health System said: 'This study emphasizes the impact of screening followed by surgical intervention to save lives in people at high risk for lung cancer.' Dr Claudia Henschke of Mount Sinai adds: 'If all people who were eligible to be screened received the low-dose CT scan, which has a dose of radiation comparable to an annual mammogram, we could save up to 80 percent of those people.'
The retrospective cohort study used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries to assess 312,382 NSCLC patients from 2006 to 2016. The median age was 68 years, and 53.4% were male.
Late stage (III/IV) diagnosis decreased from 70.8% to 66.1%, while early-stage (I/II) diagnosis increased from 26.5% to 31.2%. Although treatment advances, including targeted therapeutics, have affected mortality, the analysis suggests that the diagnostic shift from a later to earlier stage lung cancer and a histology shift to adenocarcinoma saves lives.