New lung cancer guidelines say forget scans and chest X-rays

The American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), is advising against low-dose CT scanning or chest X-rays to screen for lung cancer.

The ACCP has issued new lung cancer guidelines on screening, preventing and coping with lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., killing over 150,000 Americans each year.

Experts at the ACCP say nodules are often found during screening but determining whether they are cancerous requires additional invasive and extensive testing.

This they say may cause the patient unnecessary risk, both physically and psychologically and often these abnormalities turn out to be harmless scar tissue.

Experts say lung biopsy procedures carry a range of risks, including infection and bleeding, and the CT scan itself exposes patients to potentially harmful radiation; also false positive results from the CT scan can cause patients unnecessary worry.

The ACCP guidelines also say people at risk for lung cancer are not advised to take beta-carotene supplements, vitamin E supplements, retinoids (vitamin A), N-acetylcysteine, selenium, or aspirin for lung cancer prevention.

The ACCP has issued guidelines for the first time on the use of complementary therapies for lung cancer patients which support the use of massage for lung cancer patients experiencing anxiety, mood disturbances, or chronic pain.

They also recommend acupuncture for lung cancer patients experiencing nausea, vomiting, pain, or fatigue from their lung cancer treatment, and for those unable to quit smoking through other methods.

The ACCP says lung cancer patients should tell their doctors about any complementary therapies they use and avoid treatments that claim to replace conventional medical care.

Dr. Gene Colice of the Washington Hospital Center in Washington DC, U.S., who helped write the ACCP guidelines says a large study involving more than 50,000 participants should eventually give the medical community a good idea of whether CT scans can, in fact, help doctors find and treat cancer more effectively.

The guidelines, which also include technical details for doctors treating lung cancer, are published in a special edition of the journal Chest.

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