Study finds White Americans 50% more likely to receive lung cancer screenings than Black Americans; health perception influences screening likelihood.

A study published in JAMA Network Open reveals a significant racial disparity in lung cancer screenings in the United States, with White Americans being about 50% more likely to be screened than Black Americans. Over a period from 2017 to 2020, 18% of White adults were screened for lung cancer compared to 12% of Black adults. Additionally, the study found that adults who rated their health as poor were three times more likely to be screened than those who believed their health was excellent, suggesting a correlation between perceived health status and the likelihood of undergoing lung cancer screening.

Dr. Alison Rustagi, one of the study’s co-authors, expressed concern over the observed racial and ethnic disparities in screening rates, emphasizing the need to understand and address the underlying causes. The current patterns of lung cancer screening usage, which show a higher likelihood of screening among those in poor health, indicate that potentially at-risk individuals who feel well may be overlooked for screening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend lung cancer screening for current and past smokers aged 50 to 80 years using low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans, which are quick and painless.

The study’s findings are based on nearly 15,000 survey responses from U.S. adults who were long-time smokers. Among the respondents, 17% reported being screened for lung cancer. Those who experienced difficulty climbing stairs, a possible sign of reduced lung capacity from smoking, were 35% more likely to have been screened. While the study did not delve into the causes of the disparities in screening rates, Rustagi hypothesizes that individuals with more health complaints are likely to have more frequent interactions with health providers, thus increasing their chances of discussing lung cancer screening.

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