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Baptist Cancer Center research proves incidental lung nodule program effective in detecting cancer early

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | March 13, 2023 CT X-Ray
Memphis, TN, March 09, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Memphis-based Baptist Cancer Center published a JAMA Network Open article proving the effectiveness of incidental lung nodule, or tumor, programs in detecting lung cancer early.

The cohort study, titled “Evaluation of Lung Cancer Risk Among Persons Undergoing Screening or Guideline-Concordant Monitoring of Lung Nodules in the Mississippi Delta,” compared the effectiveness of scheduled lung screenings against incidental diagnostic scans (taken during emergencies or other unrelated situations) in detecting cancer early. Dr. Raymond Osarogiagbon, chief scientist for Baptist Memorial Health Care/director of the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program and the Thoracic Oncology Research Group for Baptist Cancer Center, was principal investigator of the study.

“This is exciting news for the lung cancer community,” said Dr. Osarogiagbon. “This study establishes the importance of both incidental scans and scheduled screenings in detecting cancer early. Typically, a large number of people with incidentally detected lung nodules would not qualify for lung cancer screening under current eligibility guidelines. With this new dual approach, we can save more lives. ”
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This cohort study, in which participants share a common characteristic, was conducted from Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2021, and included 6,684 participants in a low-dose computed tomography screening group and 12,645 participants in a lung nodule program. Those in the lung nodule program had significantly greater incidence of lung cancer diagnosis within two years. These findings suggest that lung nodule program participants, regardless of smoking history, had a substantial risk for lung cancer.

“One thing our research shows is that screening alone can only go so far in finding more lung cancers early, so it is important to have a complementary lung nodule program,” said Dr. Osarogiagbon. “Through this work, we are now primed to explore how artificial intelligence and biomarker research can improve the effectiveness of early lung cancer detection in Mid-South communities.”

The lung nodule program also provided access to early detection for a higher proportion of Black persons and those at greatest risk for lung cancer, such as the less educated, rural dwellers and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Lung cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage because people do not have symptoms until the disease is advanced. While it has been shown lung cancer screening saves lives, most people aren’t aware of the availability of lung cancer screening and many of the people who are at risk would not qualify for screening under current guidelines. However, guideline-concordant management of incidentally detected lung nodules would provide another route to early detection of lung cancer.

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