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Health Beat: Improving low dose CT scans

Health Beat: Improving low dose CT scans

There's a new technology that's helping dramatically reduce lung cancer deaths. 

Low dose CT scans have revolutionized early lung cancer diagnosis and treatment, but sometimes it's hard to tell if the abnormalities they detect are really cancer. 

Now, researchers have discovered something in your blood that could help that.

An Internet search may have saved Lawrence Moore's life. He just happened to come across an article about low dose CT scans detecting lung cancer, which motivated the former smoker to get one done.

A mass was found, but it was inconclusive. Lawrence had to wait seven months and go through more scans before he was finally diagnosed with lung cancer.

"You're sitting there sort of gnawing your fingernails and wondering what's happening," said Lawrence.

Dr. Edward Patz, a professor of radiology and pharmacology/cancer biology at Duke University, said it happens to many patients and can mean more testing or invasive biopsies, but his team discovered three blood proteins that tend to be higher in patients with cancer.

When an abnormality is inconclusive, the doctor said images from a low dose CT scan that show its size and the blood bio-markers can help determine the risk of it being cancer.

The test can be completed in about a day and could help patients "avoid some unnecessary procedures and not delay treatment in other patients," Patz stated.

Moore had a portion of his lung removed within 24 hours of his diagnosis. 

"I was very glad it was over with," said Moore, who is cancer-free, and his biggest worry these days is watering his orchids.

The doctor said this method is 80 to 85 percent accurate. It is FDA-approved and will debut soon, costing around $100.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary

DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Edward Patz about improving low dose CT scans

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