Study shows nearly half of high-risk lung cancer screenings have delayed follow-up, with current smokers at higher risk of delays in care.
At the American Thoracic Society 2022 International Conference, a study revealed that nearly half of lung cancer screening exams with high-risk findings experience delays in follow-up care. Alwiya Ahmed, M.D., and her team from the University of Washington School of Medicine focused on understanding the extent of these delays in patients with high-risk computed tomography (CT) scan results, which could lead to a lung cancer diagnosis. They reviewed data from 397 patients who had undergone lung cancer screenings over nearly a decade, with results classified as Lung-RADS 3, 4A, 4B, or 4X according to the standardized system.
The study found that out of 464 exams indicating high risk, 59 patients (15%) were diagnosed with lung cancer. However, follow-up delays occurred in 47% of these high-risk exams, varying by classification: 58% in Lung-RADS3, 35% in Lung-RADS4A, and 37% in Lung-RADS4B/4X cases. The median delay time for follow-up was 91 days overall, with the longest delays noted in Lung-RADS3 category. Additionally, current smokers were more likely to experience delays, regardless of their Lung-RADS category.
Highlighting the need for timely follow-up after high-risk findings, Dr. Ahmed emphasized the importance of interventions at both the provider and patient levels to ensure that those at high risk receive the care they need promptly. The study’s results point to a significant gap in care that, if addressed, could potentially improve outcomes for patients at risk of lung cancer.