Health | Lung cancer: the fight goes through screening

An unusual tiredness more tenacious than usual. Lawrence take exams. The result falls, he suffers from a bronchial cancer at an advanced stage. The announcement is experienced as“an earthquake”. Then begins for him long months of treatment “violent and difficult to bear”. At 65, Laurent, of an optimistic nature, deploys a powerful lust for life. Today on borrowed time, this “miraculously ” as he calls himself, regrets having

“smoked for more than thirty years. I was stupid not to listen to prevention messages.” Head of the thoracic surgery department at Saint-Joseph hospital in Marseille, Iliès Bouabdallah is not surprised.“The people I operate on have the same story almost all the time. Examinations for suspicion of other pathologies or even for two years, a Covid. “In his office, he looks one last time at the 3D images of the lungs of the patient he is about to operate.

“We discovered a suspicious spot on him by chance. In this disease, the prognosis is linked to the stage of diagnosis. If the cancer is located only in the lung, there is a 90% survival rate at 5 years. On the other hand, if it is already metastatic, survival is catastrophic. Less than 10%. Still, it is extremely rare to discover lung cancer at an early stage because there are no symptoms.” With 33,000 deaths (1.5 million worldwide) for 46,000 new cases per year in France, lung cancer is one of the most common and deadliest. “It’s almost the equivalent of a Covid every year,laments the specialist. Tragedies that could have been avoided because, in 80% of cases, it is smokers or former smokers in whom tobacco is responsible for the disease


1,000 smokers screened

Detecting lung cancer has become obvious for the surgeon. Also, when last February, the High Authority for Health (HAS) gave the green light for the implementation of real-life experiments to screen for this cancer in smokers, Dr Bouabdallah, accompanied by Arnaud Boyer, onco-pneumologist quickly positioned himself to launch a program at Saint-Joseph Hospital. It should start next fall.

“The challenge of this screening is to increase the number of potentially curable patients by 15 to 60%. We believe in it because other countries such as the United States, China or England already practice it with results promising.” Funded to the tune of €200,000 by the League Against Cancer and the Saint-Joseph Hospital Foundation, the study is aimed at smokers aged 50 to 80.

“who have smoked more than 15 packs/year. They will be able to benefit from a low-dose scanner, that is to say with very little radiation.” In this system, all people (hospital patients, caregivers, staff and external visitors) will be able to apply. To find out if they are eligible, terminals will be installed within the Saint-Joseph hospital. 1,000 patients will then be selected to participate in this individualized lung cancer screening, for six years, with a prescription for a CT scan “on entry into the program, one year later and then every two years. In the same way as a mammogram is done for breast cancer screening. The main objective being to target the right population to be screened and periodicity.” This follow-up will be associated with a smoking cessation program which will be offered to patients by the health establishment’s tobacco specialists, but is not compulsory.

“By quitting smoking before age 50, the risk is divided by 50%. After age 60, the probability of declaring this disease reduces it by 15%.”

World No Tobacco Day has been held around the world on May 31 every year since 1987. It focuses on the health hazards of tobacco and the anti-tobacco action led by the WHO.

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