Chest X-rays fail to spot one fifth of lung cancers

GPs should consider early reassessment of patients who have lung cancer symptoms but negative chest X-rays, Danish researchers have claimed.

A study of 84 lung cancer patients showed that initial X-rays missed up to a fifth of cancers. Moreover, only a third of patients were referred for diagnostic investigation after their first GP consultation. This is despite 76 per cent of patients presenting with lung-related symptoms.  Among 58 patients who underwent chest X-ray, 20 per cent had no signs of lung cancer. It took six times longer to diagnose these patients than those with lesions on chest X-rays.

Br J Gen Pract 2006; 56: 863–8

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