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Where there's smoke, there's cancer

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | May 31, 2013
From the May 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Along with the admission that smoking dramatically increases lung cancer risk came the rise of lung cancer screenings. By the 1970s, large-scale screening trials at several major hospitals found little benefit in CT screenings, but later trials showed that the screenings could reduce mortality rates. One screening controversy still prevalent is the high incidence of false-positives in lung cancer screenings. Recently, a study found that lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) has the potential to save more than 12,000 lives a year. However, that test also has a high rate of false positives.

Today, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women, causing 443,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Cigarette smoking rates have dropped in the U.S. and many other wealthy countries, but have remained steady or continue to rise in other parts of the world. Smoking is especially prevalent in China, where the number of cigarettes smoked annually rose from 500 billion in 1980 to four times that in 2010. It’s now known that men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers, and women who smoke are 13 times more likely. But even though the debate on the link between cigarette smoking and health problems is over, research continues on the best screening methods and treatments for the disease.

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