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Study: Sputum Test Effective in Lung-Cancer Screening


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http://www.jointogether.org/sa/news/sum ... 16,00.html

Study: Sputum Test Effective in Lung-Cancer Screening


Canadian researchers have found that a sputum analysis is an effective tool for identifying early lung cancer in current or former smokers, Reuters reported Dec. 18.

While a CT scan alone is effective in identifying lung cancer, it often fails to show small cancer nodules in the central part of the chest. Furthermore, because a CT scan also picks up non-cancerous nodules, the screening often results in a high number of false-positive readings.

By performing a sputum analysis prior to a CT scan, researchers from the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver found an improvement in accuracy.

For the study, researchers evaluated 561 current and former smokers who were at least age 50 and smoked a pack a day of cigarettes for 30 years or more.

Of the participants, a sputum analysis showed abnormal cells in 423 individuals, while a CT showed non-cancerous lung nodules in 46 percent of them.

Of the 14 cancers detected in participants, the sputum analysis found 13 of them, while the CT scan discovered only nine.

According to lead researcher Dr. Annette McWilliams, if only a CT scan was performed, 29 percent of the cancers would have gone undetected.

The researchers determined that preliminary screening for abnormal cells in sputum samples improved the detection rate of lung cancer between 1.8 percent to 3.1 percent and is beneficial in determining whether a CT scan should be performed.

"This strategy has the additional potential of reducing the number of initial CT scans by at least 25 percent with further savings in follow-up investigations and treatment," the researchers concluded.

The study's findings are published in the Nov. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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