Earlier this month a National Cancer Institute found that preventative CT scans of heavy smokers' lungs cut the risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent, saving one person for every 300 subjects. CT scan makers were obviously overjoyed at the news and swiftly went about extolling the benefits of preventive scans.
But some cancer experts are concerned about expanding the use of CT scans to those who aren't in immediate risk of getting lung cancer. "We really need to weigh the harms associated with screening," explained Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. Experts are concerned that broader CT use will lead to increased levels of radiation exposure in addition to unnecessary biopsies and surgeries.
"The aggregate harms to all the people's lives who are not saved have to be taken into account," Dr. Peter Bach, a pulmonologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told the New York Times. "Even in these highly controlled settings, about one percent of the people had surgery or a part of their lung removed for something they thought was cancer and it wasn't."
- here's the article for more