Diagnosing lung cancer before it's in a more advanced stage is key to survival of patients say researchers based on findings of a recent study. While a CT scan can detect early lung cancer, researchers wanted to determine if it is a cost-effective option. A new study conducted by researchers who wanted to look at the cost-effectiveness of a CT scan for high-risk patients.
The research was part of the Early Lung Cancer Action Project (ELCAP) that was conducted to look at the usefulness of an annual low-dose CT scan screening for lung cancer. The ELCAP found 80 percent of cancers detected were found in stage I and were small in size. For the current study, researchers used these findings to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the CT scan. Information from the ELCAP was incorporated into a model to determine the amount of cost per year of life saved.
The study shows the cost-effectiveness ratio of a CT scan in high-risk patients was $2,500 per year of life saved. The analysis showed the screening would increase survival by 0.1 year at a cost of $230. Researchers also point out that the majority of cancers found were in early stages. An earlier stage cancer is often less costly to treat than a late stage cancer, so therefore researchers say a screening program could be compensated by these savings.
Researchers conclude the implementation of a CT scan screening for the early detection of lung cancer would be economically efficient.