Comparison of CT Chest with contrast media Axial ,coronal and sagittal view for screen lung nodules and lung cancer .
Credit: mr.suphachai praserdumrongchai/Getty Images

Research led by Dr. Raymond Osarogiagbon, chief scientist for Baptist Memorial Health Care that used incidental lung nodule detection was shown to be effective in detecting lung cancer early. The finding, published in JAMA Network Open, support a two-pronged approach that also includes current lung cancer screening guidelines.

“This is exciting news for the lung cancer community,” said Osarogiagbon who is also the director of the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program and the Thoracic Oncology Research Group for Baptist Cancer Center. “This study establishes the importance of both incidental scans and scheduled screenings in detecting cancer early. Typically, a large number of people with incidentally detected lung nodules would not qualify for lung cancer screening under current eligibility guidelines. With this new dual approach, we can save more lives.

“One thing our research shows is that screening alone can only go so far in finding more lung cancers early, so it is important to have a complementary lung nodule program,” He continues. “Through this work, we are now primed to explore how artificial intelligence and biomarker research can improve the effectiveness of early lung cancer detection in Mid-South communities.”

The lung nodule program also provided access to early detection for a higher proportion of Black persons and those at greatest risk for lung cancer, such as the less educated, rural dwellers and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Lung cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage because people do not have symptoms until the disease is advanced. While it has been shown lung cancer screening saves lives, most people aren’t aware of the availability of lung cancer screening and many of the people who are at risk would not qualify for screening under current guidelines. However, guideline-concordant management of incidentally detected lung nodules would provide another route to early detection of lung cancer.

“We are so proud of our team of doctors, scientists and researchers for these leading-edge efforts to find new ways of diagnosing lung cancer early,” said Ann Bishop, system administrator of oncology for Baptist Cancer Center. “This research proves our methods are effective, and our efforts are unmatched in the fight against lung cancer and disparities.”

In 2021, Baptist Cancer Center announced a multifaceted initiative called the Mid-South Miracle aimed at reducing lung cancer deaths in the Mid-South 25% by 2030. The initiative comprises seven components that will address prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer through smoking cessation, low-dose CT screening, algorithmic management of incidentally detected lung nodules, multidisciplinary decision-making and care, high-quality surgical care, high-quality pathologic evaluation, including biomarker testing, and expanded access to innovative treatment through clinical trials.

Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to Baptist Cancer Center in August 2020 to fund the incidental nodule research project.

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