The Hadassah Medical Center has participated in an international research study which recently revealed that an annual low-dose CT scan can detect lung cancer in its earliest stage in 85 percent of patients. When followed by prompt surgical removal of the tumor, 92 percent have a 10-year survival rate! Currently, most cases are diagnosed when the lung cancer is in its later phases.

The study, initiated by researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in 1993, expanded into an international research effort known as I-ELCAP (International Early Lung Cancer Action Program), involving researchers from 38 medical centers in seven countries. Hadassah is the only Israeli hospital that participated in this research effort, the largest and longest study to test the effectiveness of annual CT scans in the early detection of lung cancer. Dr. Dorit Shaham of Hadassah’s Imaging Institute, one of I-ELCAP’s founders, played a major role in the international research group along with leading the Hadassah research aspect of the study. Among her contributions was the creation of an Internet site that the group is using to teach physicians.

A cure for lung cancer is likely only when it is discovered in Stage I. The I-ELCAP teams tested 31,567 people. The CT scans diagnosed 484 with lung cancer, of which 412 were Stage I. All but eight of the patients received treatment; the eight who did not, all died within five years. The research participants were all above 40 years old and considered at high risk for developing lung cancer from smoking, passive smoke or exposure to cancerous materials in their work places.

Of the 1,000 people tested in Israel, 15 were diagnosed with lung cancer, with 85 percent of them in Stage I. All were treated after diagnosis and their disease has not returned.

“These research findings provide convincing proof that the early detection of lung cancer by CT scanning can give hope to millions of people,” Dr. Shaham said. “They also prove that immediate treatment after detection in its early phase may dramatically decrease lung cancer mortality rates.”

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