Around 1.8 million people worldwide die from lung cancer every year. Because better drug treatment options are available, early detection using low-dose computed tomography is becoming increasingly important. This was shown at the annual congress of the American oncology society ASCO in Chicago.
Lung carcinoma is also a huge health problem in Austria. In 2019, 2,770 men and 2,061 women developed a malignant lung tumor. Lung cancer was the most common cancer in men and women. 2337 men and 1641 women died from it. Thus, lung cancer was still the most common cause of cancer death in men and already the second most common cause of cancer death in women in Austria, according to Statistics Austria.
In Austria, only about 20 percent of lung carcinomas are discovered in the early stages. Experts have found that if this is done in time, five-year survival rates can even reach 90 percent.
If the diagnosis is made later, which is usually the case, the five-year survival rate drops to just 15 to 20 percent.
Screening with low-dose computed tomography in heavy and long-term smokers is already established in the USA. There, all people between the ages of 50 and 80 who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years are to be examined once a year with a CT scan – even if they have stopped consuming cigarettes within the past 15 years.
Curable in early stages
As part of a pilot project in Hungary, 1.5 percent of the participants were diagnosed with lung cancer. Most lung malignancies were detected at an early stage (86.2 percent). For Austria it was calculated that an organized lung cancer screening program could reduce the approximately 4,000 lung cancer deaths annually by a quarter. So far, however, there is no such nationwide project.
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