Lung cancer screening might be one step closer to fruition in New Zealand thanks to newly discovered results by the University of Otago, published by medical journal BMJ Open. The indigenous Māori people of New Zealand are particularly susceptible to lung cancer, as their mortality rates are between three and four times higher than other ethnic groups. Around 450 Māori are diagnosed with lung cancer, and approximately 300 die from it yearly. If caught in the early stages, health outcomes for the Māori and other ethnic groups will undoubtedly improve.
To assess whether low-dose computerized tomography (LDCT) might be a cost-effective way to screen for lung cancer, Waitematā and Auckland DHBs collaborated with University of Otago researchers. Led by Associate Professor Sue Crengle (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha) from the University of Otago, the researchers used scientific modeling to estimate the benefits and costs of LDCT screening when it comes to a high-risk population. LDCT uses a small amount of radiation to produce an extremely clear three-dimensional image from a computerized x-ray.
“Having clarity about the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening provides further impetus to get this work started,” Associate Professor Crengle says. “If this works for Māori, then it will work for everyone else as well.”
Study findings suggested a national biennial lung cancer screening program is likely beneficial in terms of cost-effectiveness for not only the Māori but also the entire population of New Zealand. With early screening, the number of deaths will be reduced among the indigenous people. Countries with screening trials have seen a 20 to 26 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths.
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