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Ann Oncol. 2012 Sep;23 Suppl 10:x320-7.

Screening and early detection of lung cancer.

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Respiratory Oncology Unit (Pulmonology) and Leuven Lung Cancer Group, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.


The greatest news of the past year in this field was the first large-scale early detection trial that could prove a 20% reduction in lung cancer-related mortality by screening high-risk individuals with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). Several expert groups and medical societies have assessed the data and concluded that LDCT screening for lung cancer is, however, not ready for large-scale population-based implementation. Too many open questions remain, such as definition of the at-risk population, timing and intervals of screening, optimal method of acquisition and interpretation of the images, how to handle (false) positive findings, and especially cost-effectiveness in relation to other lung cancer prevention strategies, mainly smoking cessation. Further analyses and several ongoing European trials are eagerly awaited. Much hope also resides in the use of biomarkers, as their use in, e.g., blood or exhaled air may provide more easy-to-use tests to better stratify high-risk populations for screening studies. While exciting research is ongoing in this domain--e.g. with microRNAs--none of the tests has yet reached sufficient validation for clinical use. Early central lung cancers are more difficult to visualise by CT. For these patients, standard bronchoscopy, complemented by autofluoresence endoscopy, has been studied in different screening and follow-up settings.

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