False Positives Not Uncommon in Chest X-Rays
Chest X-rays can sometimes catch signs of lung cancer in its early stages. However, false positive x-rays can be a cause of needless concern.
Akinso: Chest X-rays can sometimes catch signs of lung cancer in its early stages. However, false positive x-rays can be a cause of needless concern, according to a study supported by the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Christine Berg, the NCI Project Officer in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening trial, says there's no accepted early screening technique for lung cancer.
Berg: The risks associated with this high rate of having an abnormal screen that then may lead to a biopsy can result in surgical procedures that a patient doesn't need to have. Because they don't turn out to have cancer but they may have had a portion of their lung removed when they didn't need to have a portion of their lung removed. And they could have complications from that kind of surgical procedure. Some people develop pneumonia or other kinds of infections or they can develop breathing problems. So we want to make sure that those kinds of risks these individuals are running are worthwhile and that's why we need to wait to see if there's a benefit in terms of a reduced risk of dying from lung cancer.
Akinso: Dr. Berg says if you get a positive result from a chest X-ray, don't panic.
Berg: All individuals who are worried about their risk of lung cancer, first of all if they're current smokers, need to stop smoking. Secondly they should talk with their health care providers about what are appropriate studies for them.
Akinso: For more information on the PLCO trial visit www.cancer.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Christine Berg