Can routine CT scans save smokers?

Dr. Claudia Henschke is deeply convinced that all smokers and former smokers should get routine CT scans. In a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Henschke estimated that routine CTs could prevent as many as 80 percent of the nation's 160,000 annual deaths from lung cancer. For her study, Dr. Henschke scanned 31,567 people at more than 30 hospitals around the world. The scans found cancer in 484, with 85 percent were at Stage I. The research predicted that the cancer patients' 10-year survival rate would be 88 percent with surgery, up from the standard 70 percent at five years.

But despite these estimates, which are a subject of fierce debate, her ideas haven't gained wide acceptance. Arguing that such tests could generate false positives and may not save lives, groups like the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have not endorsed her approach. These groups want to see a controlled study comparing the results for patients that get routine CTs with patients that don't get these scans. Dr. Henschke's study didn't use a control group.

Find out more about Dr. Henschke's efforts:
- read this New York Times piece

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