The ink isn't dry on the lung CA screening study, but the marketing has begun

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On an American Cancer Society blog, David Sampson, ACS director of medical and scientific communications, writes:

“It’s only been a few days since researchers released preliminary results of a major trial of early detection of lung cancer in heavy smokers using CT scans. At the time, the American Cancer Society and others (including the authors themselves) expressed cautious optimism, with emphasis on the cautious, saying that although enormously promising, the data was not enough to call for routine use of this screening test, even in heavy smokers. But as we’ve discussed here, not everyone could resist the pull of touting the “good news” with little balance.

But 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.

Last night, as he worked quietly in his home office, our Chief Medical Officer sat wide-eyed as he listened to an advertisement on an Atlanta radio station touting the results of the study to promote a local hospital’s lung cancer screening program.

This morning, we were made aware of a press release from a group of doctors in Los Angeles promoting these scans. It actually appeared the day the news came out. It says:

“…this study should once and for all settle the controversy regarding the utility of screening CT of the lungs in saving lives.”

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February 11, 2011 at 6:47 am

I wasn’t aware of the controversy about the use of screening CT of the lungs. I thought it was harmless.