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‘Low-dose chest CT can detect lung cancer for non-smokers’
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.03.15 17:33
  • Updated 2019.03.15 18:07
  • comments 0

Researchers at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) have discovered that low-dose chest computed tomography (CT) is effective in detecting lung cancer for non-smokers.

Professor Lee Chun-teak of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital

The prevalence of lung cancer in nonsmokers is increasing in Korea. Even people who have never smoked have an increased risk of suffering from lung cancer as hazardous substances such as secondhand smoking, fine dust, and radon is now common.

However, patients often receive a diagnosis for lung cancer after the metastasis has already taken place into other organs, making it the number one cancer death in Korea. In particular, patients with non-smoker lung cancer often do not feel any symptoms until cancer progresses considerably, making it difficult to detect the tumor.

Medical professionals have conventionally used chest X-ray, chest CT, and histological examination to diagnose lung cancer.

Recently, however, the importance of lung cancer screening using low-dose chest CT has become widely recognized as a scan that can reduce lung cancer-related mortality for smokers in the U.S. and EU.

Low-dose chest computed tomography can detect early lung cancer, which is difficult to identify with X-rays, and has the advantage of less concerns about radiation exposure compared to conventional CT.

To see if the results were similar in non-smoker patients, the team, led by Professor Lee Chun-teak of the pulmonology department at the hospital, analyzed about 28,000 patients who underwent lung cancer screening by low-dose CT at the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital Health Promotion Center.

As a result, the team found that 0.45 percent of the 12,000 non-smokers had lung cancer. The incidence of lung cancer in nonsmokers was lower than patients who smoked (0.86 percent), but the early rate detection for non-smokers was 92 percent compared to the 63.5 percent for smokers.

“The study is significant as it followed-up on more than 10,000 non-smoker patients over 13 years from 2003 to 2016,” the hospital said. “In particular, lung cancer of non-smokers was likely to be detected early, with an estimated five-year survival rate of 96 percent, which was much higher than the smokers' lung cancer survival rate of 67.4 percent.”

Journal of Thoracic Oncology published the results of the study.


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