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Lung Cancer – Tumor size determines likelihood of Cancer Spreading

February 15th, 2006

Lung Cancer – Tumor size determines likelihood of Cancer Spreading

CT scanning equipment

In the February 13th issue of the Archives of Internal medicine a study reported that the smaller the tumors in lung cancer the less likely the cancer will spread.  The researchers believe that the earlier the detection, the better chance for successfully treating lung cancer.

The lead researcher, Claudia I. Henschke, M.D., Ph.D., New York Presbyterian Hospital–Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, along with colleagues from the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program screened 28,689 men and women for lung cancer.  This took place at over 38 different medical institutions worldwide from 1993 through 2004.  The screenings were performed with a computed tomography (CT) scan.


Early screening using a CT scan allows for early detection of lung cancer when a person is unaware of even having lung cancer.  The CT scan finds tumors that are smaller in size.  Tumors less than 30 millimeters in diameter are classified as stage IA.  The IB tumors measure larger than 30 millimeters in diameter.  Because of the use of CT scan, the size rating of stage I cancers now have two size categories; IA, and IB.  There is some relationship to tumor size and the prognosis of surviving lung cancer. 


Of these 28,689 people, 464 people were diagnosed with lung cancer.  The 464 people with the lung cancer were further classified as either small cell or non-small cell along with the size of the tumors at the time of diagnosis.  They also made a note of those that had cancer that had metastasized or spread.  The patient’s tumors were determined if they were solid, nonsolid or part-solid.

The majority, 436 patients, had non-small cell cancers.  This type of cancer tends to be less aggressive than small-cell cancers.  The larger the tumor the more likely the cancer would spread.  If the tumors were solid there was a higher chance for cancer spreading.  The part-solid tumors had a lesser chance for spreading.  It did not seem likely to spread with nonsolid tumors.


The 28 patients of the 464 with lung cancer had small cell cancer.  The tumors associated with this type of cancer were at a higher risk for spreading. 

"The pattern confirmed herein suggests the usefulness of finding latent cancers at small sizes," the authors of the study said. "Most lung cancers without evidence of lymph node metastases are curable, with the curability rate being higher at smaller sizes. This suggests that tumor diameter also serves as a prognostic indicator for curability, perhaps even for micrometastases not detectable by our current techniques."

The FDA states on their website, "The radiation from a CT scan may be associated with a very small increase in the possibility of developing cancer later in a person's life." 

Although CT scan can detect tumors in lung and colon cancer, more research needs to be done in regards to the safety of this technology.  It is debated that CT scans preformed on a annual basis could actually cause cancer.

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By Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM