Chest-imaging system could diagnose cancer earlier

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Doctors in Italy report that a new chest-imaging system could lead to the earlier diagnosis of lung cancer.

Dubbed digital chest tomosynthesis, the screening technique is claimed to be fast and inexpensive.

Under the direction of Dr Alberto Terzi, Dr Luca Bertolaccini and colleagues from the Thoracic Surgery Unit at S Croce e Carle Hospital analysed data from more than 1,500 patients with no previous evidence of cancer, who were screened using the technique.

According to a statement, they have identified abnormalities in the lungs of 268 subjects, of whom 16 (1.07 per cent) were found to have lung cancer. 

‘Digital tomography takes about 11 seconds,’ Bertolaccini said. ‘The lung cancer detection rate using digital chest tomography is in line with the detection rate of previous studies using computed tomography.

‘The one per cent detection rate is adequate for lung cancer screening and the cost is by far lower than using low-dose CT scan.’

Based on its experience, the Italian group believes the new technology holds great promise.

‘Compared with chest CT, patients who underwent digital chest tomography received a far lower radiation dose. Digital chest tomography seems to be a promising first-line tool for lung cancer screening.’

Further multicentre studies are needed to confirm the clinical role for the technique in the detection or evaluation of lung nodules, the researchers said.

‘Digital chest tomography systems for chest imaging are currently available and are not very expensive, and in the coming years we hope that clinical experience will guide the development of optimal clinical utilisation strategies,’ said Bertolaccini.

The findings were presented this week at the Third European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) in Geneva.