Five-Minute Survey Can Help Predict Lung Cancer

MONDAY Nov. 2, 2009 -- A simple questionnaire can identify patients at high risk for lung cancer, researchers say.

In a study that began in 2001 with 1,000 people in Colorado who were seeing their primary care physician for general health issues, patients were asked to complete a five-minute questionnaire that collected information about lung cancer risk factors, including smoking, family history, exposure to chemicals and work environments.

Based on their responses, 430 patients were considered to be at high risk for lung cancer. Of those, 126 underwent a non-invasive breath measurement test called spirometry. Among patients who were found to have airflow obstruction, 88 underwent a full lung cancer screening. Five years later, lung cancer was confirmed in eight patients with obstructed airflow and in 10 patients without obstructed airflow, the researchers reported.

"Simple by design, our initiative received widespread community support from physicians, patients and hospitals," lead investigator Dr. Thomas Petty, said in a news release from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. "By providing the guidelines for pointed questions when patients are face-to-face with physicians, we can begin to identify those at risk."

The study is published in the November issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer risk factors.

Posted: November 2009


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