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Spiral CT Scan May Hold Hope for Future

Spiral CT Scan May Hold Hope for Future

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingPeter Jennings' death from lung cancer has caused smokers to consider a relatively new form of CAT scan. It can spot tumors the size of a pea. It's painless, quick, and relatively inexpensive. But doctors say it also has one big drawback -- large numbers of false positives.

Doctors fear routine CT scanning could drive up health costs and cause more problems than it cures.

Dr. Kirsten Edmiston, Cancer Specialist: "Lung cancer screening by Spiral CT is not there yet. It may be there and we hope that it will help, but it's not there yet."

Cancer specialists recommend that spiral CTs be reserved only for patients with high-risk backgrounds and not used for routine screenings. Some doctors fear routine testing and the inevitable false positives will lead to a huge increase in biopsies and other procedures that are painful, expensive, and unnecessary.

Doctors say this may well be a cancer-fighting tool of tomorrow, but one that for now has significant questions.

The National Cancer Institute is conducting a fifty-thousand person study that should answer many of the questions about just how valuable spiral CT scanning is in finding and helping to fight cancer.

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