Campus News

Epidemiology and biostatistics professor quoted in The Epoch Times

Mark Ebell, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the College of Public Health, was quoted in The Epoch Times about the possibility that doctors don’t explain the pros and cons of a lung cancer screening.

Two new studies suggest that U.S. doctors don’t discuss the harms of lung cancer screening or the potential for over-diagnosis in conversations with current and former smokers. While screening may reduce the chance of dying from lung cancer by catching tumors sooner, most people don’t benefit because hundreds of patients need to be tested over many years just to prevent one death. Most of the time, CT scans detect abnormal tissues that aren’t cancerous. The study found that on average, doctors devoted only one minute to discussing lung cancer screening during conversations that lasted 13 minutes. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends that people aged 55 to 80 with a history of smoking the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years get screened yearly with a low-dose CT scan.

“I primarily encourage patients from 55 to 70 who are current smokers, since they have the greatest benefit,” said Ebell, whose area of expertise includes screening and prevention. “Older patients in good health can also consider screening, although it’s uncommon to find a current smoker over 70 years that doesn’t have other serious medical problems that limit the benefit from screening for lung cancer.”