As the US grapples with low CT lung cancer screening rates, researchers and clinicians around the world are pressing ahead with ways to make the exam more effective – especially in countries with high smoking rates. Two new studies published this week show the progress that’s being made.
In Brazil, researchers in JAMA Network Open found that using broader criteria to determine who should get CT lung screening not only expanded the eligible population, but it also reduced racial disparities in screening’s effectiveness.
Researchers compared three strategies for determining screening eligibility: two based on 2013 and 2021 USPSTF criteria, and one in which all ever-smokers ages 50-80 were screened, finding:
- Screening all ever-smokers generated the largest possible screening population (27.3M people) compared to USPSTF criteria for 2013 (5.1M) and 2021 (8.4M)
- Number of life-years gained if lung cancer is averted due to screening was highest with all-screening (23 vs. 19 & 21)
- But the all-screening strategy also had the highest number needed to screen to prevent one lung cancer death (472 vs 177 & 242)
- The USPSTF 2021 criteria reduced (but did not eliminate) racial disparities; the USPSTF 2013 criteria produced the greatest disparity
The authors said the results showed that CT lung cancer screening in Brazil could identify 57% of preventable lung cancer deaths if 22% of ever-smokers are screened. Their study should help the country decide which screening strategy to adopt.
In a second paper in the same journal, researchers from China described how they performed CT lung cancer screening via opportunistic screening, offering low-dose CT scans to patients visiting their doctor for other reasons, such as a routine checkup or a health problem other than a pulmonary issue. Among 5.2k patients, researchers found that people who got opportunistic LDCT screening had:
- 49% lower risk of lung cancer death by hazard ratio
- 46% lower risk of all-cause mortality
- 43% received their lung cancer diagnosis through opportunistic screening
This week’s studies continue the positive progress toward CT lung cancer screening that’s being made around the world. Both offer different strategies for making screening even more effective, and add to the growing weight of evidence in favor of population-based lung screening.