Medical Minute: Debate Over C-T Scans

Anne Morrison Had lung cancer

"I had no reason to think I had anything wrong with me. I had no symptoms."

But Anne Morrison wanted to be sure. She smoked for 30 years, so she was at high risk for lung cancer.

Anne Morrison had lung cancer.

"I had no symptoms, so if I hadn't signed up for this study five years out, I would probably be dead now."

A CT scan found a tumor in its early stages, one that a standard x-ray would have missed. Anne had it removed. Five and a half years later, she is cancer free. It's a success story that has many researchers excited.

Ralph Aye, MD Thoracic Surgeon says, "This is probably the biggest breakthrough we've had in lung cancer treatment in 50 years."

A recent study found annual CT scans can detect lung cancer at its earliest stages in 85 percent of patients. When the tumor is removed within a month, the 10 year survival rate is 92 percent. Traditionally, it is only 15 percent. But critics say it's not clear whether CT scans save lives or just detect cancer sooner.

Jason Chien, MD Pulmonologist says, "The only way to know that for certain is to have a second arm for comparison."

In other words, the study did not have a group of patients who did not get screened There's also concern about exposure to unnecessary radiation and who is high risk enough to have a yearly CT scan. The test may also detect non-cancerous growths and lead to risky surgeries.

As the debate continues, Anne gladly lives her life and thanks the scan for letting her.

"I'm very happy. I'm very grateful. I'm very lucky."

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