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Lung Cancer. 2010 Feb;67(2):177-83. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2009.03.030. Epub 2009 May 7.

Lung cancer screening using low-dose computed tomography in at-risk individuals: the Toronto experience.

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Department of Medical Imaging, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada.



The Department of Medical Imaging at the University Health Network in Toronto is performing a lung cancer screening study, utilizing low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) as the modality. Baseline and annual repeat results are reported on the first 3352 participants, enrolled between June 2003 and May 2007.


Enrollment was limited to those aged 50 years or older, with a smoking history of at least 10 pack-years, no previous cancer and general good health. A helical low-dose CT (LDCT) of the chest was performed using 120kVp, 40-60mA, images were reconstructed with 1-1.25mm overlapping slices. The primary objectives were the detection of parenchymal nodules and diagnosis of early stage lung cancer. Baseline LDCTs were termed positive if at least one indeterminate non-calcified nodule 5mm or larger in size, or non-solid nodule 8mm or larger in size was identified. Follow up periods for individuals with a positive baseline LDCT were determined by nodule characteristics.


The median age at baseline was 60 years (range 50-83), with a median of 30 pack-years of cigarette smoking (range 10-189). Baseline CT evaluations were positive in 600 (18%) participants. To date, 2686 (80%) of the participants have returned for at least one annual repeat screening LDCT. Biopsies have been recommended for 82 participants since the study began, and 64 have been diagnosed with screen-detected cancer (62 lung, two plasmacytoma of the rib). A total of 65 lung cancers have been diagnosed (62 screen-detected, 3 interim), 57 are NSCLC (82% with known stage are stage I or II) and the rate of surgical resection was 80%. Sensitivity and specificity of the protocol in successfully diagnosing early stage lung cancers were 87.7% and 99.3%, respectively.


Data indicate that LDCT can identify small lung cancers in an at-risk population. The diagnostic algorithm results in few false-positive invasive procedures. Most cancers are detected at an early stage, where the cancer is resectable with a greater potential for cure. Long-term follow up of lung cancer cases will be carried out to determine survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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