Lung cancer is the primary cause of cancer mortality in developed countries. First diagnosis only when disease has already reached the metastatic phase is the main reason for failure in treatment. To this regard, although low-dose spiral computed tomography (CT) has proven to be effective in the early detection of lung cancer (providing both higher resectability and higher long-term survival rates), the capacity of annual CT screening to reduce lung cancer mortality in heavy smokers has yet to be demonstrated. Numerous ongoing large-scale randomised trials are under way in high-risk individuals with different study designs. The initial results should be available within the next 2 years.