US lung cancer screening rates low among high-risk smokers
medwireNews: The uptake of low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screening by heavy current and former smokers remains low despite the recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
In 2013, the USPSTF endorsed annual screening for asymptomatic individuals aged 55–80 years with a current or prior 30 pack–year smoking habit, explain the researchers from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
However, using data from 2167 responders of the National Health Interview Survey who met the USPSTF criteria, they found the proportion of participants who reported having undergone low-dose CT screening in the previous year did not increase between 2010 and 2015, with rates of 3.3% and 3.9%, respectively.
Ahmedin Jemal and Stacey Fedewa estimate that only 262,700 of the 6.8 million smokers eligible for low-dose CT screening in 2015 underwent the procedure.
“Reasons for exceptionally low uptake of screening may include gaps in smokers’ knowledge regarding [low-dose CT], lack of access to care as well as physicians’ knowledge about screening recommendations and reimbursement,” they write in JAMA Oncology.
Noting that annual screening has “the potential to avert thousands of lung cancer deaths each year,” the researchers emphasize “the need to educate clinicians and smokers about the benefit and risks of lung cancer screening for informed decision making.”
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