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CT Scans for the Win

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A new National Cancer Institute-funded study published in Radiology this week shows that annual CT scans can reduce the risk of lung cancer-related deaths for both current and former smokers by up to 20 percent, reports the New York Times' Gardiner Harris. Of the study, NCI's Christine Berg told the Times: "This is the first time that we have seen clear evidence of a significant reduction in lung cancer mortality with a screening test in a randomized controlled trial." According to Harris, physicians were able to detect the signs of lung cancer much sooner with CT scans than with X-rays and may be able to screen for signs of cardiovascular disease, emphysema, and other pulmonary diseases this way. However, some researchers, like Duke University's Edward Patz, remain unconvinced that CT scans are the best approach to screen for signs of lung cancer going forward. The elevated costs, false-postive results, and uncertainties surrounding the cumulative effects of CT scan-related radiation exposure may remain barriers, Harris adds. "If we look at this study carefully, we may suggest that there is some benefit in high-risk individuals, but I’m not there yet," Patz told the Times.

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