New research led by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is bringing attention to lung cancer screening. Based on the research, researchers have improved screening criteria for those at risk of lung cancer.
Risks and Benefits of Lung Cancer Screening
Low-dose CT scans are most commonly used to test for lung cancer. There have always been pros and cons of being tested, but this new study gives insight into who benefits most from screening.
The decision to get tested can be beneficial for many people at risk for lung cancer. However, the scan might also set off a false alarm, causing unnecessary anxiety.
Many first-time scans are still needed to prevent just one death from the disease, but screening is known to be more beneficial for those at high risk of developing lung cancer. Early detection can lead to more effective treatments for those affected by lung cancer.
A Personalized Approach
The results of the recent VHA study can help doctors personalize their advice to patients.
Doctors have always considered how a patient’s individual risk of lung cancer compares to the potential harms and benefits of screening. Now, doctors will be able to take it a step further, factoring in a range of patient attitudes.
Not all patients feel the same way about screening and its potential consequences.
If a person has a life expectancy of more than ten years and a 0.3%-1.3% chance of lung cancer, they fall into a “high-risk” category of people who more often benefit from screening. Approximately half of all Americans who qualify for lung cancer screening under the current guidelines would qualify as high-risk.
For the remaining 50%, personal preference plays a larger role in comparing the risks and benefits of being screened. If a low-risk patient is uncomfortable with medical tests and the potential for follow-up scans, they and their doctor may decide that screening isn’t a good option.
This recent study is another step toward increasing the efficiency of lung cancer screening.
The board-certified doctors and licensed medical staff at Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Associates provide comprehensive evaluation and care for lung conditions. To talk with a doctor, contact us.