Fewer lung cancer deaths through targeted checkups

Targeted screening can significantly reduce death rates from lung cancer

Health experts say around one in four people in the European Union dies of cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Europe. One reason for this is that this type of cancer is often diagnosed late. According to experts, targeted screening could significantly reduce mortality in lung cancer.

Lung cancer is often recognized late

Lung cancer is still underestimated, according to health experts. Even though this disease is the most common cause of cancer death in Europe. The disease is also so dangerous because symptoms are often not noticed and the diagnosis is therefore made late. A targeted lung cancer screening could, however, significantly lower the death rate, as an investigation has now shown.

Over 50,000 new cases every year

A study published earlier this year showed that cancer mortality in Germany was reduced, but this does not apply equally to all types of cancer.

The number of lung cancer cases is still very high. Every year around 54,000 people fall ill with it. 45,000 people die from this cancer every year.

Lung cancer continues to top cancer death statistics. Despite all advances in drug therapy, survival rates are unfavorable.

According to health experts, one of the main reasons for this is that many patients are diagnosed only at a late stage.

Death rates could be reduced significantly

As reported by the University Hospital Freiburg in a message, a study from the Benelux countries presented at the "World Conference on Lung Cancer" in Toronto now shows that targeted radiological preventive examinations mean that the death rates in men by more than 26 percent and in women even can be reduced by more than 30 percent.

According to the information, people between 50 and 74 years of age were screened for the study as a precautionary measure by computer tomography (CT) of the chest.

The subjects either smoked more than ten cigarettes a day for more than 30 years, or smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day for more than 25 years.

The current data from Europe thus confirm studies that were carried out in the United States a few years ago.

These showed that regular lung cancer screening reduced the death rate of heavy smokers by 20 percent.

Screening for high-risk patients

Prof. Dr. Bernward Passlick, Medical Director of the Clinic for Thoracic Surgery at the University Medical Center Freiburg and Head of the Lung Cancer Center located there, is therefore now calling for clear regulations to be found in Germany in order to provide risk patients with a suitable preventive medical check-up.

"In addition to the important prevention of nicotine withdrawal, this can be a suitable means to significantly reduce cancer mortality," said Professor Passlick.

Such screening could be considered for high-risk patients, for example for active or former very heavy smokers.

The current study shows how much screening using computer tomography (CT) benefits such people:

In those patients who underwent CT screening, 50 percent of them were diagnosed with lung cancer at a stage when the cancer was still well operable. The chances of a cure are good here.

In the control group, however, almost 50 percent of the patients were diagnosed with lung cancer at a stage in which metastases had already occurred and the chances of recovery were significantly poorer. (ad)

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