The National Cancer Institute will pit spiral computerized tomography (CT) against chest X-ray in a head-to-head contest to determine which of the two technologies is more effective in reducing lung cancer deaths, or whether either test. The NCI launched the National Lung Screening Trial earlier this week and aims to quickly enroll 50,000 current or former smokers at 30 sites throughout the country. Conventional wisdom suggests the smaller the tumor when it is found, the more likely the chance of survival, but there is no scientific evidence to date that shows that early detection of lung cancer with either CT or X-ray actually saves lives. Spiral CT, a technology that uses X-ray, can pick up smaller tumors than the much more ubiquitous X-ray machines. More than half of the hospitals in the country own CTs and routinely use them for staging cancers, according to the NCI. Volunteers will be randomly assigned to receive either an X-ray or CT once a year for three years; researchers will continue to contact participants annually until 2009.
CT vs. X-ray in lung cancer trial
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