An annual low-radiation CT scan can detect stage I lung cancer in 85 percent of cases, which would prevent the application of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, according to the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) ).
A lung cancer has no symptoms until it reaches the most advanced stages. Therefore, in a usual way, 85 percent of these cancers are detected in stages three or four of the disease, when it already affects a bronchus and some bleeding appears, it reaches the rib and causes pain.
This topic has been discussed in the informative day Bilbao Health Meetings, specifically in the paper called ‘Lung and tobacco cancer: early detection program’, given by the director of the Department of Pulmonology of the University of Navarra Clinic and participant in the study, Javier Zulueta Francés.
“An annual control of people at risk of developing this type of cancer, as with mammography, saves lives,” says Zulueta. That is why it affects the importance of this CT scan in people at high risk of lung cancer. “Tobacco is the most important factor and, not only that, it is the cause of the disease. If other conditions such as COPD or pulmonary emphysema are added to this situation, the risk of cancer is even higher, ”says Zulueta.
Lung cancer causes more than 300,000 deaths a year in Europe and more than two million worldwide. It is classified into four different stages according to its expansion. In stage one, the disease has an extension of less than three centimeters, which is located exclusively in the lung. When the size increases and affects the lymph nodes, stage two is reached and then three.
Finally, the fourth stage is reached when metastases appear in other organs. “During the first phase, cancer is cured with surgery; in stage two, it can still be reversed, but the odds are lower and, in the last two, the options for complete healing are virtually nil, ”says Zulueta.