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Published:  August 11, 2011

Study Indicates CT Scans Can Increase Positive Outcomes in Lung Cancer Patients

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. According to The American Cancer Society’s most recent study, there are an estimated 222,520 new cases and 157,300 deaths each year, accounting for 28 percent of all cancer deaths. Physicians have seen an increase in lung cancer incidence and mortality rates in 2011.

The epidemic of lung cancer in the 20th century is primarily due to increases in cigarette smoking, which is the predominant cause.  Early detection is critical for improving survival rates of this disease as a mere 15 percent of lung cancers are found when they are localized. As there are few symptoms in the early stages, the majority of lung cancers are diagnosed at later stages. Symptoms of later stage disease may include a persistent cough, sputum streaked with blood, chest pain, voice change and recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis.

Now the initial results of a National Lung Screening Trial, conducted by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network and the National Cancer Institute point to new hope for life-saving, early detection even for current and former smokers.  Results of this government-financed study showed that current and former heavy smokers benefited from the early detection of lung cancer through the use of annual CT scans.  The early detection reduced their risk of death by 20 percent.  Until recently, no screening technique had proven effective in reducing mortality from the disease.  This finding is a significant advancement in cancer detection.

“The results of this study may be able to save thousands of lives over the next few years,” says Steven Carpenter, MD, radiation oncologist with St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.  “Today’s technology is making a significant positive impact on outcomes.”

CT Scans and Early Intervention
The low-dose helical CT testing for lung cancer, available at St. Luke’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center, creates cross-sectional images of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine.  A computer then combines these images into a detailed, three-dimensional view that shows abnormalities and tumors. 

Should abnormalities or tumors be detected and a lung biopsy needed, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital can perform the minimally-invasive procedure using the superDimension i•Logic™ System.  This procedure helps doctors reach lesions deep in the lungs with minimal trauma to the patient, enabling them to diagnose benign and malignant lung disease and avoid the need for higher-risk procedures.

If treatment is needed, patients have the option of a non-invasive alternative to surgery, the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System.  During this painless procedure the robotic arm moves precisely with 3D motion to treat the tumor and maximize healthy tissue preservation.  The CyberKnife offers unprecedented targeting accuracy by continuously tracking tumors that move with respiration.  Treatment can be completed within five outpatient sessions*.

To Learn More

While there is more information to be gleaned from the National Lung Screening Trial, initial results point the way to diagnostic options available for those patients most at risk for lung cancer, to increase their odds of survival through early detection.

To find out more about the latest diagnostic and treatment options for lung cancer, visit our website at or call us at 832-355-2187. 

St. Luke’s Radiation Therapy and CyberKnife® facility is located at 2491 S. Braeswood.

*Each patient’s treatment length is individually determined.

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