The scarier the better—screening results that make smokers stop smoking

Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and causes many diseases. Credit: CDC/Debora Cartagena

Screening for lung cancer leads to early detection and treatment, but can it also make people stop smoking before they get cancer? The answer is that it depends on the seriousness of the results, according to a study published May 28 in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

To determine if there is an association between type of screening result and smoking cessation, Martin C. Tammemagi of the Department of Health Sciences, Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues used data from the Lung Screening Study component of the US National Lung Screening Trial on 14,621 current smokers, 55-70 years old, with a 30 or more pack-year smoking history and who had smoked during the last 15 years. The researchers excluded participants who developed lung cancer in follow-up.

For smoking information, the authors used the results of annual study updates starting at one, two, and up to 7 years later. Results for baseline, year one and year two screenings were classified in five levels, ranging from "normal, no abnormalities" to "positive (suspicious) for lung cancer." In analyses adjusted for sociodemographic factors including age, race, marital status and education, and for exposures such as cigarette smoking intensity and duration, past or current pipe or , and exposure to secondhand smoke at home, Tammemagi et al. found that the more serious the screening result the greater the likelihood of stopping smoking. In addition, the effect appeared to be durable, lasting 5 years after the last screening.

The researchers point out that "…abnormal screening results may present a 'teachable moment'," and suggest that "Future screening programs should take advantage of this opportunity to apply effective smoking cessation programs."

In an accompanying editorial, Stephen A. Deppen and colleagues of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, Division of Epidemiology and Division of Medicine, Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, praise the rigor of Dr. Tammemagi's study but write that more information is needed on whether those with negative scans stop as well. They also write that screening programs offer the opportunity to conduct research on "…the prevalence of the health-certificate effect and the intervention intensity required to achieve the maximum ."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Model more accurately predicts lung cancer risk

Feb 22, 2013

(HealthDay)—A new model to predict lung cancer risk is more accurate than previous criteria, according to a study published in the Feb. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Recommended for you

US women's awareness of breast density varies

3 hours ago

Disparities in the level of awareness and knowledge of breast density exist among U.S. women, according to the results of a Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Study shows why some brain cancers resist treatment

3 hours ago

Scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center may have discovered why some brain cancer patients develop resistance to standard treatments including radiation and the chemotherapy agent temozolomide.

Researchers identify genes responsible for lung tumors

5 hours ago

The lung transcription factor Nkx2-1 is an important gene regulating lung formation and normal respiratory functions after birth. Alterations in the expression of this transcription factor can lead to diseases such as lung ...

Lycopene may ward off kidney cancer in older women

7 hours ago

A higher intake by postmenopausal women of the natural antioxidant lycopene, found in foods like tomatoes, watermelon and papaya, may lower the risk of renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.