Screening for early lung cancer. Results of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering study in New York.
Melamed MR, Flehinger BJ, Zaman MB, Heelan RT, Perchick WA, Martini N
The Memorial Sloan-Kettering lung cancer screening program was begun in 1974 to evaluate sputum cytology as a supplement to the annual chest x-ray examination for early detection and diagnosis. The 10,040 adult, male cigarette smokers who enrolled were randomly assigned to receive annual chest x-ray examinations only or a dual screen with annual chest x-ray examination and four monthly sputum cytology evaluation. Over 40 percent of the 288 who developed lung cancer were diagnosed in stage I, and their survival was 76 percent at five years; overall survival was 35 percent. Nearly one third of the lung cancers detected on first examination on the dual screen, and 14 percent of those on subsequent examinations were found by cytologic examination. The same number of cancers developed in the x-ray screen only group, and were diagnosed at a later date. Despite the delay, survival and mortality were the same, suggesting that the squamous carcinomas detected by cytologic examination alone are very slow growing and tend to remain localized until detectable by x-ray examination.