Over 400,000 Dutch smokers invited to get screened for lung cancer
About 400,000 Dutch smokers and former smokers in three regions will get an invitation to participate in an experimental population screening for lung cancer in the coming months, Rotterdam MC announced. This experiment will focus on smokers and former smokers between the ages of 60 and 79, as lung cancer is most common in this age group, NOS reports.
Doctors have asked for a population screening for lung cancer for years because the disease is much more treatable if detected early. A 2020 study found that early detection with a CT scan can reduce mortality by 25 percent or more in smokers and ex-smokers. In the Netherlands, that amounts to 1,500 to 2,500 fewer lung cancer deaths per year.
Lung cancer is much more challenging to treat once the patient starts showing symptoms. Once lung cancer metastasizes, the chance of survival is much lower. “Only three out of a hundred people are still alive after five years if the tumor is discovered at a late stage. At an early stage, that is still about 60 out of 100,” lead researcher Carlijn van der Aalst said.
This experimental population screening will happen in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, and France. The Dutch people invited to participate live around the screening locations in Amsterdam, Bilthoven, and Friesland.
In this experiment, the researchers hope to learn more about how to reach and inform the people most at risk for lung cancer and how often the target group needs to get a CT scan. “In eight out of ten participants, no abnormalities will be found on the first CT scan. Do they need a new CT scan a year later, or is it safe to wait two years?”
The researchers also hope the government will see the value in a real, full-population screening for the early detection of lung cancer. In the Netherlands, approximately 14,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer yearly. At least 10,000 people die of the disease per year.