Early detection of mesothelioma or any other cancer is the crucial factor for increasing life expectancy. Recently published results of a long-term study say that low-dose computed tomography screening can improve the life expectancy of pleural mesothelioma for more than a decade.

The Journal of Thoracic Oncology published these results online on 28th June 2019.

These are the follow-up results of the study conducted by the National Lung Screening Trial Research Team. The first results of this study published after six years of research in 2011.

The researchers observed a decrease in deaths from lung cancer after low-dose CT screening test, as the authors of the study wrote in the first results,

“In the NLST (National Lung Screening Trial), a 20.0% decrease in mortality from lung cancer was observed in the low-dose CT group as compared with the radiography group.”

Recently published results reaffirm previous observations concluding,

“Extended follow-up of the NLST (National Lung Screening Trial) showed an NNS (number needed to screen) similar to that of the original analysis. There was no overall increase in lung cancer incidence in the LDCT (low-dose computed tomography) arm versus in the CXR (chest radiography) arm.”

Mesothelioma is different from lung cancer as it develops around the lining of the lung (pleura) instead of on inside the organ. However, mesothelioma is very much alike non-small cell lung cancer when it comes to symptoms and treatment.

Therefore, researchers suggest that low-dose CT screening may also increase the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients and delay death, just like lung cancer patients.

What is the Low-Dose CT Screening Test?

Low-dose CT screening also called LDCT, low-dose CT scan, or low-dose computed tomography test detects lung cancer. It is the only recommended screening test by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for lung cancer. Screening is not generally recommended or allowed for the patients. Only adult patients in severe conditions and with no apparent symptoms allowed the screening test. Screening tests help doctors in early detection of the disease and to start treatment earlier sooner.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends low-dose CT screening test for adults,

  • Aged between 55 to 80 years,
  • Have 30 years (or more) of smoking history,
  • Have not quit smoking,
  • Or have quit smoking within the past 15 years.

People who can check all of these points must take lung cancer screening test every year.

Low-dose CT Screening and Increased Survival Chances

The researchers enrolled more than 53,000 lung cancer patients, and recent results showed 12 years-long data. The follow-up results indicated that screening of lung cancer patients for three years increased the life expectancy for over a decade. A separate study, NELSON lung cancer screening trials, also concluded a similar positive impact of screening for lung cancer.

“LDCT (Low-Dose CT screening) benefit improved beyond the 5th year of screening, with a 58% reduced risk of LC (lung cancer) mortality and 32% reduction of overall mortality.”

Moreover, this study reported a 26% reduction of death in men and a 39% reduction of death risk in women who have lung cancer who undergo LDCT.

Just like the screening tests or procedures available for prostate, lung, breast, and colon cancer, there is a need for a standard mesothelioma screening test. An approved screening test for people working or living around excessive asbestos presence can help in the early detection of asbestos-related diseases. And this may also effectively increase the survival chances of mesothelioma patients.

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