News of the WeekCancer Screening

The Promise and Pitfalls of a Cancer Breakthrough

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Science  12 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6006, pp. 900-901
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6006.900-b

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Cancer research got some good news last week: A landmark clinical trial reported that screening for small tumors with advanced x-ray imaging led to a significant drop in lung cancer deaths (20% fewer) among smokers and ex-smokers, compared with screening with standard chest x-rays. Such positive results are unheard of, particularly for lung cancer, which kills 157,000 people in the United States each year. Until now, no randomized study has shown that screening for lung cancer can save lives. But experts quickly warned that the U.S. health care system isn't ready for what may follow.