From: Scott Sincoff, ENN
Published April 15, 2012 01:06 PM

Fine Needle Aspiration May Be Best Alternative Method for Lung Cancer Patients

According to a new study, research supports screening lung cancer patients with low dose CT scans. This new examination is shown to save more lives during follow-up care for lung cancer patients.



This research has shown that when CT scans reveal nodules in the lungs, 96 percent of the scans are not cancerous. This results in scientists exploring alternative methods to treat lung cancer patients so that they could more accurately attribute a proper diagnosis. One alternative method researchers have been studying is using a CT guided transthoracic fine needle aspiration. 

This research method, produced in the May 2012 issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer's (IASLC) Journal of Thoracic Oncology, was tested and supported by a research team led by Weill Cornell Medical School researcher, Dr. Brian Gelbman. Gelbman's research supports the hypothesis that this highly sensitive technique may be the best way to accurately diagnose pulmonary nodules.

Gelbman's team studied 170 patients between January 2002 and December 2004 who had initial remedial results. Approximately ten percent of the patients who had undergone the fine needle aspiration (FNA) had cancer, which means that the FNA biopsy produced a false negative of the cancer cell. Gelbman's team explained in the research that the "false negatives tended to occur in larger lesions."

The researchers also state in their research that they "speculate that the portion of the lesion with malignant cells was likely part of a larger consolidation, making it difficult to distinguish the primary lesion from surrounding atelectasis or inflammation." They also state that false negatives may also occur because of the number of imaging adjustments that were made for each needle pass during the biopsy. Gelbman also states that the expertise of the radiologist could also be a factor; "while both radiologists were experienced with CT FNA, the operator with the lower incidence of false negatives had more years of experience with the procedure and performed more biopsies overall."

The researchers recommend that patients with benign FNA biopsies regularly repeat their imaging for at least two years after the procedure to make sure that there is no growth.

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