Lung Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

17. Are there new ways to detect lung cancer before it starts to spread?

One screening method that shows promise detecting lung cancer before it has spread is spiral computerized tomography or spiral CT. Spiral CT can scan the lungs from the neck to the diaphragm in less than 10 seconds, or a single breath-hold.

In the summer of 2002, the National Cancer Institute launched a trial called the National Lung Screening Trial to determine if spiral CT is better than conventional x-ray at finding dangerous lung cancers and distinguishing between cancers and non-cancerous changes in the lungs. The initial results of the study showed that a spiral CT could save lives of current and former heavy smokers when compared to chest x-ray. It is not yet known if spiral CT can save lives for light or non-smokers who develop lung cancer.