When cancer is detected and treated in its earliest, localized stages, patients oftentimes have the best chance of survival. Early detection is especially possible for prostate, colon, skin, and breast cancers.
Although lung cancer is the United States’ leading cause of cancer death, the screening process causes physical and psychological consequences. Jamie Studts, PhD, said that instead of an event, lung cancer screening is more of an algorithm. Screening is likely to give patients anxiety, where they may be subjected to false–positive results, invasive biopsies, and harmful exposure to radiation.
To combat this barrier to lung cancer screening, Dr. Studts is developing an online tool that high-risk patients may use to inform and educate themselves about lung cancer screening. This program, which is a collaboration with Margaret Byrne, PhD, will assist patients in the decision-making process by aligning personal values with lung cancer screening education.
In a study by the National Lung Screening Trial, 39% of the patients had false–positive results. Misdiagnosing and undergoing unnecessary treatment are risks of lung cancer screening, and these not only affect the individuals, but also the government since the cost of funding unnecessary procedures is expensive.
Clinical trials testing the program’s ability to assist in decision-making are the next step for the researchers’ study.
The phrase “we caught it early” is possibly the best news a patient can hear in the midst of a cancer diagnosis. Screenings for breast, skin, colon, prostate and other forms of cancer are touted for saving lives through early detection.
But in the case of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, the patient’s decision to undergo a screening process is more complex.