In this study, more than 26,000 people were screened for lung cancer. These are the people who have an increased risk of getting sick because they smoke a lot for a long time. Some of these people will be screened two more times in the next two years, while others will only receive one more screen, in two years’ time.
“Current models suggest that we should screen people in high-risk groups annually,” says Carlin van der Aalst, assistant professor at Erasmus MC and coordinator of the study. “That’s a lot of testing. That’s a huge burden on the participants and on the healthcare system.”
The research should show whether the number of scans can be reduced. “For people who have an increased risk of lung cancer, but whose first scan shows no abnormality, it seems safer to get screened every two years,” says Van der Aalst. “In this study, we are investigating whether this is actually safe enough. If it is, it would save a lot of research.”
Early detection of lung cancer is important, because the chance of survival decreases sharply as the cancer progresses to a more advanced stage. Of people whose lung cancer is detected at an early stage, 60 percent are still alive after 5 years. Among people whose lung cancer was only detected at the last stage (stage 4), only 3 percent are still alive after 5 years.
reach the target group
In addition to potentially reducing the number of scans, the researchers want to know the best way to reach the target group.
“People at high risk of lung cancer often have less income and less work education, which is related to the fact that they smoke a lot,” says van der Aalst. “We’re also investigating how best to get access to this group. It’s not about convincing people to participate, it’s about letting people know so they can make their own decision based on things that are important to them.”
“We tried to present the information in different ways,” the researchers said. “A version with more text, a version with more images, offline and online. We’ve tried to cater to both high- and low-skilled people, because you want to reach everyone.”
Whether this is due to the connection method is not yet clear, but enthusiasm for research is high anyway. According to Van der Aalst, that’s partly because screenings aren’t yet offered as standard, so many people in this study see an opportunity to check for lung cancer.
However, not everyone who signs up is eligible to participate, because people who smoke a lot and for a long time are specifically required. Of the tens of thousands of people who have applied, only a few thousand are suitable to participate.
Population screening is not without controversy. Earlier, Yolande van der Graaf, Professor Emeritus at Utrecht University, had crossed, among others Strong criticism On population screening for lung cancer. It even shot him in Volkskrant”money in the abyss.
According to critics, such research is useless, because it kills fewer people. For example, people who smoke a lot die less from lung cancer because of extra screening, but they still die from other diseases. Van der Graaf has previously advocated that money spent on population research be spent on promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Carline van der Aalst is knowledgeable about criticism. “But our research is not a substitute for smoking cessation,” she says. “I would also prefer that people not smoke at all, but there are still a lot of smokers out there. Many of the people who have been screened have even stopped smoking, but the risk of lung cancer will remain very high for many years to come.”
“It is important to promote a healthy lifestyle, but at the same time there are many disorders associated with lifestyle, such as many cardiovascular diseases,” Van der Alst Bares. “Shouldn’t you research them all then? Of course you should always consider whether an intervention is helpful, but with the current numbers of smokers we think we can help with this research for many years to come.”
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