(NaturalNews) Still a common practice for doctors to order annual chest X-rays for their patients with suspected lung cancer, it has been long proven that this type of screening tool is useless. Even as far back as the Mayo Lung Project of chest radiographs and cytology screening, conducted during the 1970s and 80s, randomized trials failed to show that chest X-rays have an impact on preventing or detecting early lung cancer. Paradoxically, chest X-rays are still being tested and scientists are wasting valuable research funds trying to prove their validity.
Lung cancer screening
It is a well-known fact that lung cancer, like most cancers, is most curable when detected early on its growth process. Unfortunately, however, most lung cancers are detected too late when the patient is in advanced stages and the hope for full recovery is quite low. In fact, according to 2012 lung cancer statistics, less than one out of every six lung cancer patients will survive five years after being diagnosed.
Time and time again research has shown that chest X-rays and computed tomography (CT) screenings have the potential to "improve survival," but are marginally useful to useless for reducing mortality. One of the most supportive studies, the 2010 and 2011 National Lung Screening Trials (NLST), screened with low-dose spiral CT as compared to chest radiographs and the results published in the world-renown New England Journal of Medicine. The articles reported a supposed 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality in the CT group.
Concerning this research, however, Mazzone et al., in a PLoS article published this year, commented, "These studies also highlighted issues with CT based screening, including the high number of benign lung nodules found requiring additional [invasive] testing, the potential long-term risk of radiation from CT imaging, and the uncertain cost-effectiveness of a CT based screening program." In other words, cheaper options like X-rays and very costly CT screenings are not only wasting precious lung cancer research dollars, they are actually doing harm to the hundreds of thousands of people willingly participating in these studies to help in the "war against cancer."
Thousands uselessly irradiated in the name of "research"
One of the more recent and dramatic examples of this shameful waste and harm is seen in a 2011 study published in The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). A trial of more than 150,000 older Americans was performed of whom 75,000 were chosen to participate in annual X-ray screenings for four years and 75,000 selected to undergo usual care where no screenings were implemented and they received typical medical care. A total of 1,213 lung cancer deaths were observed in the intervention group compared with 1,230 in usual care group through 13 years. The study participants were then observed for six years to measure death from lung cancer and secondary complications to lung cancer. As clear from the data, the authors concluded, "Annual screening with chest radiograph did not reduce lung cancer mortality compared with usual care." Of course it didn't! It hasn't for over the 40 years of research spent on this topic so why do we think irradiating 75,000 people in a "new and improved" multi-million dollar study will prove otherwise?
Nonetheless, researchers insist on subjecting people to ionizing radiation and will not give up the notion that irradiating people is the answer to lung cancer prevention. Similar concerns have been raised about pap tests for cervical cancer, routine PSA tests for prostate cancer screening, and mammograms for breast cancer.
Sources for this article include:
Siegel R, Naishadham D, Jemal A (2012) Cancer statistics 2012. CA Cancer J Clin 62: 10 29. doi: 10.3322/caac.20138.
Melamed MR, Flehinger BJ, Zaman MB, Heelan RT, Perchick WA, Martini N. Screening for early lung cancer: results of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering study in New York. Chest. 1984;86(1):44-53.
Tockman MS, Levin ML, Frost JK, Ball WC Jr, Stitik FP, Marsh BR. Screening and detection of lung cancer. In: Aisner J, ed. Lung Cancer. New York, Churchill Liv- ingstone; 1985:25-36. Contemporary Issues in Clinical Oncology; vol 3.
Fontana RS, Sanderson DR, Woolner LB, Taylor WF, Miller WE, Muhm JR. Lung cancer screening: the Mayo program. J Occup Med. 1986;28(8):746-750.
Kubik A, Parkin DM, Khlat M, Erban J, Polak J, Adamec M. Lack of benefit from semi-annual screening for cancer of the lung: follow-up report of a ran- demised controlled trial on a population of high-risk males in Czechoslovakia. Into J Cancer. 1990;45 (1):26-33.
Manser RL, Irving LB, Byrnes G, Abramson MJ, Stone CA, et al. (2003) Screening for lung cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials. Thorax 58: 784-789. doi: 10.1136/thorax.58.9.784.
Oken MM, et al. Screening by Chest Radiograph and Lung Cancer Mortality: The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Randomized Trial. JAMA 2011; 306(17): 1865-1873.
The National Lung Screening Trial Research Team. Reduced lung-cancer mortality with low-dose computed tomographic screening. N Engl J Med. 2011; 365(5):395-409.
About the author: Journalist, medical researcher, speaker, and life coach, Eric L. Zielinski has been writing prolifically since 1998. Formerly trained as primary care provider and peer-review researcher, he has published an eclectic selection of health content for several print and online publications. Zielinski earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Wayne State University in 2002 and is currently wrapping up his Doctorate of Chiropractic at Life University along with a Masters of Public Health at Emory University. Visit his blog. Track his work on facebook. Read Eric's other naturalnews.com articles.
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