Lung Cancer Screening Tests Among the Eligible Populations Remain Very Low!
According to a study by the American Cancer Society researchers on the rates of lung cancer screening tests, the number of people seeking the tests remains very low among the eligible populations. This is even despite efforts and recommendations that high-risk current and former smokers get to be screened. Smokers with a long history of smoking are at the highest risk of getting lung cancer and can, therefore, benefit massively from screening. The study by the American Cancer Society was published in Jama Oncology and the authors mentioned that more health-care providers and patients need to be educated on the lung cancer screening guidelines.
Who Should Get Screened?
In December 2013, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) went on to recommend that certain people with a high risk of getting lung cancer get yearly screening using low-dose CT scans. This included people aged between 55 and 80 with at least a 30-pack yearly smoking history. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) had showed that screening this population would help reduce the lung cancer mortality by about 20%, hence prompting USPSTF to make the recommendation.
However, the study by the American Cancer Society which compared the before-recommendation lung cancer screening rates and after-recommendation screening rates found that the rates did not rise as was expected. In 2010 before the recommendation, the National Health Interview Survey found out that only 2%-4% of high-risk smokers received lung cancer screening in 2009. And from 2010 to 2015, the screening rates remained low- just 3.3% in 2010 and 3.9% in 2015. This means that only about 262,700 persons out of the eligible 6.8 million current and former smokers underwent the screening.
Why Are Screening Rates Low?
According to the lead author Ahmedin Jemal, the reasons for these low lung cancer screening rates are varied but could mostly be because of a lack of knowledge among both health specialists and smokers about screening recommendations and access to high-quality screening.