Medical Technology

Earlier Lung Cancer Detection May Drive Lower Mortality

A new analysis of data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries found that NSCLC might be detected earlier than previously thought. The findings were published in JAMA Network. There was a shift in stage between 2006 and 2016. Stage 1 and 2 diagnoses increased as did stage 3 and 4 diagnosis decreased.

While targeted therapy and immunotherapy have deservedly been credited with a boost in NSCLC survival, the latest results underscore the importance of screening, according to study author Emanuela Taioli, MD PhD,director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology and the associate director for population science at the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai, New York.

She pointed out that the average survival for stage 1 or stage 2 patients was 57 months but just 7 months when the stage diagnosis was 3 or 4. “So being diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 is a major driver of a higher chance of survival,” said Taioli in an interview.

The study included 312,382 people with NSCLC (53.4 percent males and women; median age, 68) Incidence-based 5-year mortality fell by 3.7% (95 percent confidence interval 3.4%-4.1 percentage). Between 2006 and 2016 Stage 1 or 2 diagnoses increased from 26.5 percent to 31.2% (average annual percentage change, 1.5 percent; 95% confidence interval, 0.5%-2.5%).

“Immunotherapy can be an exciting field. It’s a major contribution for those with an illness which can be treated with immunotherapy, which is why people are focused on it. But if you can diagnose the cancer earlier, that’s the most effective option,” Taioli said.

Unfortunately, many patients and doctors haven’t received that message. Only 7 percent of patients who are eligible are regularly screened for lung cancer by computed tomography, even though it is covered by Medicare . Taioli stated that there is a belief that lung cancer is too fatal to be detected in the early stages.

However, advances in surgery and therapy have changed the way we think about surgery and therapy. “It’s no longer true. She claimed that people don’t know and doctors aren’t informed about the fact that lung cancer can be detected earlier and saved lives.

Quitting smoking may be relatively easy to convince. “They have taken a huge step because quitting smoking can be extremely difficult. They’re likely to be open to screening because they are in the stage of their lives that they want to take good care of themselves. The doctor should be able to explain the benefits, and I don’t think they are doing it in a clear manner now,” Taioli said.

The study is limited by its retrospective nature, and did not provide information on diagnostic method or many NSCLC risk factors.

Taioli has no relevant financial disclosures.

This article was originally published on It is part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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