Steelworkers call for routine lung cancer CT Scan screening

Steelworkers call for routine lung cancer screening November 11, 2010 — If CT lung cancer screening works — and it does, according to results of a 10-year trial released last week by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) — then steelworkers need it now, the United Steelworkers (USW) said on Wednesday. “We are now presented with an enormous opportunity to save workers from dying from lung cancer,” Leo Gerard, international president of the 850,000-member union, said in a statement. “Millions of workers have been exposed to asbestos, silica, chromium, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, and combustion products — and all of these exposures are firmly established as causes of human lung cancer.” Early results of the landmark National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), released November 4, are the first from a large, randomized trial to prove that low-dose CT screening reduces lung cancer deaths. The reduction produced by CT screening was more than 20% in at-risk patients, though it was conducted in former smokers and not specifically in workers exposed to environmental risk factors, such as chemicals used in steelmaking. The trial results were so convincing that the NCI halted the study early to inform participants and the general public about the effectiveness of using low-dose chest CT scans for the detection and treatment of lung cancer. USW said it already co-sponsors a large screening program, which uses the same low-dose CT technique as the NCI trial and has screened more than 10,000 nuclear weapons workers in three states, detecting 70 lung cancers. “Workers at high risk of lung cancer should have rapid access to high-quality, appropriate, comprehensive CT scan-based lung cancer screening services without financial barriers,” Steven Markowitz, MD, USW’s screening program director, said in Wednesday’s statement. “We can save many lives.”