Primary care radiography in the early diagnosis of lung cancer

Cancer Imaging. 2010 Mar 16;10(1):73-6. doi: 10.1102/1470-7330.2010.0007.


Finding an abnormality on a plain chest radiograph is usually the first definite evidence of a lung cancer, so this investigation is currently pivotal in the diagnosis of the disease. Although the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced guidance on when a chest radiograph should be done for putative lung cancer presentations, cancer will usually be only one of a number of possible diagnoses, so this is somewhat artificial. Neither is there any evidence that obtaining a chest radiograph for these features leads to an improved outcome. Another major concern is the poor public awareness of the symptoms for which a chest radiograph is recommended. This article discusses the role of the chest radiograph in the early diagnosis of lung cancer with particular emphasis on the limited value of a single negative result and on the potential implications of interventions to increase the number of chest radiographs done in primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Radiography
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology