October may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but a new study has great news for women when it comes to another life-threatening disease: lung cancer.
Italian researchers in Lung Cancer found that CT lung cancer screening delivered survival benefits that were particularly dramatic for women – and could address cardiovascular disease as well.
- They found that in addition to much higher survival rates, women who got CT lung screening after 12 years of follow-up had lower all-cause mortality than men.
Of all the cancer screening tests, lung screening is the new kid on the block.
- Although randomized clinical trials have shown it to deliver lung cancer mortality benefits of 20% and higher, uptake of lung screening has been relatively slow compared to other tests.
In the current study, researchers from the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan analyzed data from 6.5k heavy smokers in the MILD and BioMILD trials who got low-dose CT screening from 2005 to 2016.
In addition to cancer incidence and mortality, they also used Coreline Soft’s AVIEW software to calculate coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores acquired with the screening exams to see if they predicted lung cancer mortality. Researchers found that after 12 years of follow-up …
- There was no statistically significant difference in lung cancer incidence between women and men (4.4% vs. 4.7%)
- But women had lower lung cancer mortality than men (1% vs. 1.9%) as well as lower all-cause mortality (4.1% vs. 7.7%), both statistically significant
- Women had higher lung cancer survival than men (72% vs. 52%)
- 15% of participants had CAC scores between 101-400, and all-cause mortality increased with higher scores
- Women had lower CAC scores, which could play a role in lower all-cause mortality due to less cardiovascular disease
This is a fascinating study on several levels. First, it shows that lung cancer screening produces a statistically significant decline in all-cause mortality for women compared to men.
Second, it shows that CT lung cancer screening can also serve as a screening test for cardiovascular disease, helping direct those with high CAC scores to treatment such as statin therapy. This type of opportunistic screening could change the cost-benefit dynamic when it comes to analyzing lung screening’s value – especially for women.