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Marketing of lung CA CT scans spreads across the country

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Last week, after the National Lung Screening Trial results were released, David Sampson, American Cancer Society director of medical and scientific communications, wrote that “our greatest fear was that forces with an economic interest in the test would sidestep the scientific process and use the release of the data to start promoting CT scans. Frankly, even we are surprised how quickly that has happened.”

And, yes, the marketing has even hit fly-over country in the Twin Cities, with this ad appearing in the Sunday Star Tribune in the A section.

scan.jpg

Of course, no where in the ad will you read about the potential harms of such scans, the false positive rate, what happens when you get a false positive (unnecessary followup testing and perhaps unnecessary treatment) and more costs. And nowhere in the ad will you read that 300 heavy smokers had to be scanned in order for just one to get a benefit of extending his life.

But six clinics in this chain are standing by to take your money and do your scan.

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Glenn Laffel, MD, PhD

November 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm

This is deplorable, Gary, I agree. The false positive rate in that study was, I believe, a whopping 25%, and who knows how many repeat CT scans, lab tests and even thoracotomies were generated as a result. I also note that the ad you cite above calls attention to (all) current and former smokers aged 55-74. I’m fairly certain the study only included heavy smokers…not a small difference there.