ALTOONA - Each year lung cancer kills half of those diagnosed--- more people than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. There's been no agreement on the best early detection screening for lung cancer, but a trial by the National Cancer Institute has led to new recommendations.
They don't come as any surprise to one local lung specialist who's been offering his patients early detection scans for about two years now.
Researchers are discovering the importance of low dose radiation chest CT scans in the early detection of lung cancer. The National Cancer Institute study shows a 20-percent decrease in deaths over X-ray screening.
Altoona Lung Specialist Dr. George Zlupko says, "before this screening program there was really no good way to pick up lung cancers early."
At the Lung Disease Center of Central Pennsylvania, Dr. Zlupko has about 200 long-time smokers who come in every year for lung CT scans. He instituted the program two years ago, following the study.
"Some have been cured, some have not been cured, but we have found some early cancers and we're always looking, "
The CT scans are recommended for people at high risk for lung cancer. They include those 55 to 75, who smoke, or who have quit within 15 years, and who smoked at least pack a day for 20 to 30 years.
Dr. Zlupko says, "if you're at risk you're not going to escape that risk by not doing this. Really, what you want to do is take control of yourself be proactive and get some of these things done."
He'll soon be using another new tool to diagnosis and treat lung cancer, an endo-bronchial ultrasound that can look in the airways for signs of cancer.