A total 1.9% of more than 7.6 million current and former heavy smokers in the United States underwent lung cancer screening in 2016, suggesting that it remains inadequate despite recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), according to an analysis presented ahead of the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting.
Current USPSTF recommendations, released in 2013, call for annual low-dose CT scans in patients ages 55 to 80 years who are current or former heavy smokers, determined by smoking ≥30 cigarette-pack years. ASCO and the American College of Chest Physicians issued a joint guideline in 2012 with similar opinions. Moreover, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded Medicare coverage for low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening.
“Despite the time since implementation and the potential to prevent thousands of lung cancer deaths every year, annual low-dose CT scanning is only at 1.9% nationally, which remains inadequate following these USPSTF recommendations, especially when it compares to other known screenings in cancer,” said lead study author Danh Pham, MD, a medical oncologist of James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville, during a presscast prior to the meeting.
Current data provided estimates of lung cancer screening since US execution, leading to Pham’s et al statistical analysis, which is the first assessment of lung cancer screening rates since those guidelines were issued and subsequent insurance coverage.
In the study, researchers used data from the 2016 American College of Radiology’s Lung Cancer Screening Registry of people who received low-dose CT scans across the radiographic screening sites. These data were then compared with findings from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey, which estimates the number of eligible smokers to be screened, as per the USPSTF recommendations. Moreover, data were compared between 4 US census regions of Northeast, West, Midwest, and South; the analysis excluded those without a history of lung cancer and patients with missing data.
Overall, results showed that while a total 1796 screening centers could have screened 7,612,975 current and former heavy smokers, only 141,260 people underwent low-dose CT scans, leading to a 1.9% national screening rate. Screening rates were calculated by dividing the number of low-dose CT scans by the number of eligible smokers for screening as per the standard recommendations.