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Low-Dose Computed Tomography Used to Screen First Responders for Lung Cancer – Cancer Therapy Advisor

Lung cancers caused by occupational exposure accounts for up to 30% of all lung cancers diagnosed in the United States. First responders in particular constitute a disproportionate percentage of those cases. While the U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends smokers aged 55 to 80 receive annual low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screens, there are no occupationally specific recommendations for first responders, despite their elevated risk. 

A presentation at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2019 North America Conference on Lung Cancer (NACLC 2019) in Chicago, Illinois, highlighted research led by Vershalee Shukla, MD, of the Vincere Cancer Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, and described the results of screening first responders for lung cancer using CT.1 In total, the study screened 195 patients (185 men) and found that 44.1% (86 patients) had abnormal results with 5 showing evidence of pulmonary injury from smoke inhalation. 

The study included patients whose ages ranged from 27 to 76 years, with an average of 21.9 years of occupational exposure. “First responders are often diagnosed with lung cancer earlier than smokers for various reasons and therefore [were] screened earlier in this study,” the authors explained in the abstract.

The study demonstrated the technique’s value for screening first responders for cancer. “The very early results are promising and ongoing follow-up will likely lead to further diagnosis of early lung cancer,” the authors wrote. “This is a small study and warrants further investigation on a larger scale.”

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the IASLC NACLC 2019 meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Shukla V, Tyrlik T, Brandman S, et al. Low dose CT lung screening in first responders. Presented at: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2019 North America Conference on Lung Cancer (NACLC 2019); October 10-12, 2019: Chicago, Illinois. Abstract OA02.07

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