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CT screening may help smokers quit

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
A CT lung scan can be just the thing to startle smokers into quitting, according to a trial led by Cardiff University researchers.

This flies in the face of a commonly held belief that a negative CT screening lets smokers think that they have a “license to smoke” and instead provides a chance to press for smoking cessation support.

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“Our trial shows that CT lung cancer screening offers a teachable moment for smoking cessation among high-risk groups in the U.K.,” said study leader Dr. Kate Brain of Cardiff University’s Division of Population Medicine.

“We now need evidence about the best ways of integrating lung cancer screening with stop-smoking support, so that services are designed to deliver the maximum health benefits for current and future generations,” she added.

The trial by researchers at Cardiff University, the University of Liverpool, King’s College London and Queen Mary University, included 4,055 participants aged 50-75 years.

One group had low-dose CT screening for early detection of lung cancer, while the control group did not.

Ten percent of smokers who who were screened succeeded in quitting their habits after two weeks, and 15 percent had quit at two years post screening. These rates were higher than those who had not been screened.

Their findings were published in the journal Thorax.

“The current evidence suggests that an integrated package of CT lung screening and smoking cessation support has the potential to expedite quitting in smokers who are motivated and receptive,” the researchers concluded.

These findings dovetail with an August, 2016, report from a Moffitt Cancer Center study, published in PLOS One, that showed the importance of regular scans for those at high risk.

In that study patients with negative CT scans for lung cancer who developed lung cancer within the next two years had worse outcomes than patients who initially had a non-cancerous finding.

This underscored the importance of high-risk patients getting screened for lung cancer, and that screening is not a “one-time event,” according to researchers, who advised that high-risk individuals need to be checked on a yearly basis.

And in June, in an effort to address the costs of such a CT screening policy, Canadian researchers advised that combining CTs for multiple conditions with efforts to stop smoking and manage the treatment of non-cancer heart and lung disease could make such an approach even more cost-effective.
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