New Analysis Finds Lung Cancer Screening Reduces Rates of Lung Cancer-Specific Death

Low-dose CT screening methods may prevent one death per 250 at-risk adults screened, according to a meta-analysis of eight randomized controlled clinical trials of lung cancer screening. Researchers at the University of Georgia analyzed the health outcomes of 90,275 patients, comparing those who were screened versus those who received usual medical care or chest x-rays. Their analysis found a clinically and statistically significant 0.4 percent reduction in lung cancer-caused death long term, which translates into one preventable death per 250 at-risk adults screened. The authors recognize the important potential harm of overdiagnosis in cancer screening programs, and there was some evidence of overdiagnosis due to increased incidence in the screened group. However, based on the reduction in all-cause mortality being in the same direction and magnitude as lung cancer mortality, the authors interpret that the associated harms “do not appear to increase other causes of mortality,” and the results of the study align with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for CT-based lung cancer screenings for adults age 55 to 80 who have a history of regular smoking.

Cancer-Specific Mortality, All-Cause Mortality, and Overdiagnosis in Lung Cancer Screening Trials: A Meta-Analysis

Mark H. Ebell MD, MS, et al

University of Georgia, College of Public Health, Athens, Georgia