Lung cancer screening using low-dose computed tomography in at-risk individuals: The Toronto experience Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: The Department of Medical Imaging at the University Health Network in Toronto is performing a lung cancer screening study, utilizing low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) as the modality. Baseline and annual repeat results are reported on the first 3352 participants, enrolled between June 2003 and May 2007. METHODS: Enrollment was limited to those aged 50 years or older, with a smoking history of at least 10 pack-years, no previous cancer and general good health. A helical low-dose CT (LDCT) of the chest was performed using 120kVp, 40-60mA, images were reconstructed with 1-1.25mm overlapping slices. The primary objectives were the detection of parenchymal nodules and diagnosis of early stage lung cancer. Baseline LDCTs were termed positive if at least one indeterminate non-calcified nodule 5mm or larger in size, or non-solid nodule 8mm or larger in size was identified. Follow up periods for individuals with a positive baseline LDCT were determined by nodule characteristics. RESULTS: The median age at baseline was 60 years (range 50-83), with a median of 30 pack-years of cigarette smoking (range 10-189). Baseline CT evaluations were positive in 600 (18%) participants. To date, 2686 (80%) of the participants have returned for at least one annual repeat screening LDCT. Biopsies have been recommended for 82 participants since the study began, and 64 have been diagnosed with screen-detected cancer (62 lung, two plasmacytoma of the rib). A total of 65 lung cancers have been diagnosed (62 screen-detected, 3 interim), 57 are NSCLC (82% with known stage are stage I or II) and the rate of surgical resection was 80%. Sensitivity and specificity of the protocol in successfully diagnosing early stage lung cancers were 87.7% and 99.3%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Data indicate that LDCT can identify small lung cancers in an at-risk population. The diagnostic algorithm results in few false-positive invasive procedures. Most cancers are detected at an early stage, where the cancer is resectable with a greater potential for cure. Long-term follow up of lung cancer cases will be carried out to determine survival.


  • Menezes, Ravi J
  • Roberts, Heidi C
  • Paul, Narinder S
  • McGregor, Maureen
  • Chung, Tae Bong
  • Patsios, Demetris
  • Weisbrod, Gordon
  • Herman, Stephen
  • Pereira, Andre
  • McGregor, Alexander
  • Dong, Zhi
  • Sitartchouk, Igor
  • Boerner, Scott
  • Tsao, Ming-Sound
  • Keshavjee, Shafique
  • Shepherd, Frances A

publication date

  • February 2010