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1 in 5 CT Screenings for Lung Cancer Results in Overdiagnosis

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 10, 2013

"Some of these individuals would never have known they had lung cancer, and never would have been treated for lung cancer… and would have died from other causes rather than from this disease," says one researcher.

Nearly one in five patients with a history of cigarette smoking who are diagnosed with lung cancer with recommended CT screening don't have a clinically significant disease and are overdiagnosed, but scientists don't yet have any way of knowing which ones.

"There's just no way to know that right now, but it is what we're working on," says Edward Patz, Jr. MD, lead author of a study in Monday's JAMA Internal Medicine and a professor of pathology and radiology at Duke University Medical Center. "But there are lots of groups working on biomarkers to find ways of making this distinction."

"What we're saying is that in the absence of screening, some of these individuals would never have known they had lung cancer, and never would have been treated for lung cancer, and never would have been labeled for lung cancer, and would have died from other causes rather than from this disease."

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