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Study shows benefit of scheduling lung screens with mammograms

Posted by on Monday, October 18, 2021 in Around the Medical Center, Fall 2021 .

Women who are longtime smokers could potentially save their lives by undergoing lung screens on the same day they schedule mammograms, according to a study by Vanderbilt researchers published in the Journal of Medical Screening.

The researchers reviewed data from 18,040 women who were screened for breast cancer in 2015 at two imaging facilities that also performed lung screenings. Of that number, 251 met the guidelines for lung screens, but only 63 of them were also screened for lung cancer by June 2019. Three of the women who underwent lung screening were diagnosed with lung cancer, and none died. Of the 188 women who weren’t screened, seven were later diagnosed with lung cancer — including more advanced stages of the disease — resulting in five deaths.  There were no deaths from breast cancer in this cohort during the study period.

The researchers recommend that lung screens be concurrently available for women at risk for lung cancer when they receive their annual mammogram.

“We have done a tremendous job raising awareness for mammography, which presents an incredible opportunity to inform both patients and providers of lung cancer screening, which can save so many lives,” said the study’s lead author, Kim Sandler, MD, co-director of the Vanderbilt Lung Screening Program and assistant professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.

More women die from lung cancer each year than breast, cervical and ovarian cancers combined.