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Head and Neck Cancer Screening Paired with Lung Cancer Screening – Higher Detection and Survival Rates

Head and Neck Cancer Screening Paired with Lung Cancer Screening – Higher Detection and Survival Rates


Extensive scanning is required to detect cancer early and early detection is one of the vital keys to treating cancer before it complicates and reaches metastasis. A new team and scientists who are affiliated to the UCPI (University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute) state that early detection of head and neck cancer could prevail if head and neck screening is conducted simultaneously with lung screening.


Background of the Study

The team’s analysis, which was funded by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and published in Cancer, effectively shows why it might be crucial for a trial to be conducted regarding the efficiency of pairing head and neck screening with lung cancer screening:


Head and neck cancer is actually pretty rare but it does occur more significantly with people already diagnosed with lung cancer or those prone to developing lung cancer. People who are at high risk of developing lung cancer are also at a very high risk of developing head and neck cancer.


Patients suspected of lung cancer normally do not screen for head and neck cancer until there are signs of metastasis. However, studies are showing that they should because they also pass as suspects for the latter. This is according to the senior author, Brenda Diergaarde PhD.

Earlier detection of head and neck cancer could lead to higher survival rates. When caught at its earlier stages, head and neck cancer has a very high 5-year survival rate of 83% or higher.


Details and Results

The study involved 3,587 patients currently enrolled in the Pittsburgh Lung Screening Study or PLuSS. All consisted of patients aged 50 and older, most of which were former smokers. The data gathered from additional screening that the annual rate of patients also susceptible to developing head and neck cancer was at 71.4 cases to 100,000 people. This is significantly larger than the general average in the US, which is 43 per 100,000 people expected to develop head and neck cancer.


Why Not Scan Everyone?

According to David O. Wilson, MD MPH, co-author as well as associate director for the Lung Cancer Center of UPMC, it would be highly impractical to scan everyone every year. There is, however, a medical protocol to screen patients aged 55 to 74 for lung cancer.


By adding head and neck cancer screening to their annual lung cancer screening, it may be quite possible to detect and treat additional complications before it becomes too late. This is why medical facilities wouldn’t have to waste resources screening everyone but only those more likely to develop head and neck cancer.


With earlier detection more possible when head and neck screening is paired with lung cancer screening for more susceptible patients, survival rates may increase as the potential cancer stages would be at their earliest phases, making them easier to treat.


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