HRCTs For Covid Detecting Early-stage Lung Cancer
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The extensive use of HRCT (high resolution CT scan) screening in India during the Covid-19 pandemic has been instrumental in early detection of lung cancer cases. A study conducted on ‘The role of HRCT in screening lung cancer’ by Grace Cancer Foundation, HYD revealed that 51 cases of lung cancer were detected through HRCT tests conducted for Covid-19 by 115 healthcare professionals during the first and second waves. The study was conducted between April 2020 and June 2021.

The study assumes significance as, currently, 70 percent of lung cancer cases are being detected in advanced stages in the country and there is almost no detection in early stages. “We came across 51 cases of lung cancer, with majority of them having early-stage disease. The other incidentally detected lesions were thymomas, tuberculosis and chest wall sarcomas,” read the survey report.

While detection was almost nil in the general population non-smokers and those not in the high-risk category earlier, the study indicates a 0.02 per cent incidence among general population. “It would be higher if HRCT was done on high-risk people. There seems to be a definitive role for low-dose CT-scan chest as screening modality for high-risk individuals between 50 and 80 years age. A larger study on the incidental detection during Covid-19 will be undertaken soon by Grace Cancer Foundation,” said Dr Chinnababu Sunkavalli, cancer specialist and CEO, Grace Cancer Foundation, who headed the study.

The projected incidence of cancer in Indians was 94 out of 1,00,000 population in males and 103.6 out of 1,00,000 population for the year 2020, as per the National Cancer Registry Programme, India. According to its report, “1 in 9 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime and one in 68 males would develop lung cancer. Majority of lung cancer patients were diagnosed with advanced stage at the time of presentation.”