Technology for earlier detection of lung cancer
21 April 2005
DAYTON, Ohio, USA. Newly available medical technology is helping
radiologists cost-effectively find more early-stage lung cancers,
permitting earlier treatment.
RapidScreen, the first and only FDA-approved computerized detection
system for digital and film chest X-rays, is providing radiologists with a
valuable "second set of eyes" to ensure that potentially cancerous growths
will not go undetected. Using routine chest X-rays, RapidScreen identifies
suspected nodule sites for further analysis by the radiologist. When a
radiologist is teamed with RapidScreen, studies show that up to 23 percent
more 9- to 14-mm nodules are detected. Many 9- to 14- mm growths are
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly half of all patients
whose lung cancer is detected in early stages will survive for more than
five years. Only 3 percent of patients with late-stage lung cancers will
survive that long with current treatment methodologies.
"Currently, only 15 percent of lung cancers overall are cured," says
Matthew Freedman, MD, Associate Professor of Oncology, Georgetown University
Medical Center, and senior medical advisor for Riverain Medical. "Medical
advances such as RapidScreen are increasing our opportunity to detect
smaller, more subtle nodules at earlier stages, thus getting a crucial
jumpstart on fighting the disease."
Detection procedures for lung cancer include chest x-rays; sputum cytology
(a deep-cough sample of mucus); biopsies using a fine-needle aspiration;
bronchoscopy using a thin, lighted tube to collect a tissue sample; and CT
scans-none of which is 100 percent accurate, according to Freedman.
"Detecting lung cancer in its earliest stages has long been a challenge
for radiologists, oncologists and primary care physicians," Freedman says.
"Medical advances have provided more diagnostic options, but we've continued
to confront the same hurdle: detecting small nodules of cancer and
distinguishing them from harmless shadows. Riverain's computer-aided
detection technology can help radiologists to detect the disease at its
early stages. With it, the chest x-ray becomes a more valuable tool."
Nonspecific Symptoms of Lung Cancer Complicate Diagnosis
The ambiguity of lung cancer symptoms, which include fatigue, weight loss,
coughing and chest or rib pain, frequently prevents patients from seeking
diagnosis and treatment in the early stages of the disease, according to
Freedman, who adds that the earliest lung cancers have no symptoms. The lack
of obvious symptoms makes it even more essential that high-risk patients,
such as current and former smokers, those exposed to secondhand smoke and
individuals exposed to pollution at work, become vigilant about disease
screening and discuss options with their physicians.
"Technologies such as RapidScreen are just one piece of developing a more
effective detection system," Freedman says. "Equally important is the
patient's involvement in discussing the need for screening with their
physician if they fall into the high-risk category."
Most importantly, he notes, patients who smoke or are exposed to other
potential carcinogens should immediately take steps to eliminate those
hazards. "We can all afford to take a hard look at how our lifestyle may be
impacting us over the long term," Freedman says. " It's never too late to
quit smoking and become more conscious of your lung health."