Lung-cancer screening in New Hampshire, USA. Photo: Jim Cole/AP/TT

Screening smokers could save hundreds of lives

"Nine out of ten affected by lung cancer are or have been smokers"
3:43 min

Routinely screening smokers and ex-smokers for lung cancer could help save up to 500 lives per year in Sweden, medical professionals claim.

“Lung cancer is a disease for which we currently do not have any good treatment, and cures are rare once the tumour has grown large and spread,” Roger Henriksson, a chief physician and president of the Swedish Society of Oncology, told Swedish Radio News Monday.

Lung cancer is the most deadly form of cancer, killing nearly 10 Swedes every day, on average. Smokers and ex-smokers count as the primary at-risk patients.

Henriksson believes that detecting lung cancer at an early stage with the help of screening could increase the ability successfully to treat lung-cancer patients. It could help save the lives of 500 people per year, he claimed.

In the United States, screenings have led to a 20-percent reduction in the mortality rate among at-risk patients.

Henriksson said the available data shows that screening will bring financial savings for society at large as it is cheaper to treat a tumour and cure patients than treating a patient for an advanced, terminal cancer.

In an op-ed published in newspaper Dagens Nyheter Monday, Henriksson, along with a number of other medical professionals, representatives of a patient association and Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare, argued that routine screening of at-risk patients in Sweden could also lead to more people giving up smoking.

“When people are called in for a medical examination and are informed about the harms of smoking you can also, along with the screening, provide more efficient advise about the harmful effects of smoking,” Henriksson said.

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