According to an article posted on CancerConsultant.com, researchers from Italy have reported that CT screening of persons exposed to asbestos can be useful in the detection of mesothelioma. The details of the study recently appeared in the November 2007 issue of The Oncologist.
While the researchers already understood that CT scans were more successful than x-rays in detecting lung cancer among high-risk smokers, the present study sought to determine if screening by CT could detect early mesothelioma and lung cancer in a population exposed to asbestos.
More than 1,000 individuals who were exposed to asbestos were involved in the study. According to the specifics of the study, the median duration of exposure to asbestos was 30 years, and the median age was 58 years. Sixty-six percent of participants were smokers with a median of 18.5 pack years. Results of CT were compared to routine chest X-rays. Eight-hundred thirty-four non-calcified nodules were detected in 44% of participants on initial CT compared to 43 nodules in 4% of participants by chest X-ray.
There were nine cases of lung cancer detected by CT and none by chest X-ray. Eight lung cancers were Stage I and one was Stage IIA and all were treated with potentially curative surgery. In addition, one person had a thymic carcinoid detected by CT. There were 11 false positive results. No cases of mesothelioma were detected in this study but the researchers nonetheless concluded that CT scans could be of benefit when screening a high-risk population for the disease.