Lung Cancer Screening
Authors: Geena X. Wu, Dan J. Raz
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States and worldwide. Since lung cancer outcomes are dependent on stage at diagnosis with early disease resulting in longer survival, the goal of screening is to capture lung cancer in its early stages when it can be treated and cured. Multiple studies have evaluated the use of chest X-ray (CXR) with or without sputum cytologic examination for lung cancer screening, but none has demonstrated a mortality benefit. In contrast, the multicenter National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) from the United States found a 20 % reduction in lung cancer mortality following three consecutive screenings with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in high-risk current and former smokers. Data from European trials are not yet available. In addition to a mortality benefit, lung cancer screening with LDCT also offers a unique opportunity to promote smoking cessation and abstinence and may lead to the diagnoses of treatable chronic diseases, thus decreasing the overall disease burden. The risks of lung cancer screening include overdiagnosis, radiation exposure, and false-positive results leading to unnecessary testing and possible patient anxiety and distress. However, the reduction in lung cancer mortality is a benefit that outweighs the risks and major health organizations currently recommend lung cancer screening using age, smoking history, and quit time criteria derived from the NLST. Although more research is needed to clearly define and understand the application and utility of lung cancer screening in the general population, current data support that lung cancer screening is effective and should be offered to eligible beneficiaries.