Few Eligible Smokers Had Lung Cancer Screening in 2016

CT scan of the lungs.
CT scan of the lungs.
The most eligible smokers were populated in South, which had most screening sites but the low screening rates

HealthDay News — In 2016, only 1.9 percent of the 7.6 million eligible smokers were screened for lung cancer, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 1 to 5 in Chicago.

Danh Pham, M.D., from the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and colleagues used data from the Lung Cancer Screening Registry (LCSR) in 2016 to obtain information on the total number of low-dose computed tomography screenings from all 1,796 accredited radiographic screening sites. Screening of eligible smokers was estimated using the 2015 National Health Interview Survey per U.S. Preventive Services Task Force criteria and compared with the reported screens from the LCSR 2016.

The researchers found that 1.9 percent of 7.6 million eligible smokers were screened in 2016. There was variation in the rates by region, from 1.0 percent in the West to 3.5 percent in the Northeast. Most eligible smokers were populated in the South, which had the most accredited screening sites; however, the screening rates in the South were among the lowest (1.6 percent). Smoking cessation was offered to about 85 percent of the screened current smokers.

“It is unclear if the screening deficit is due to low provider referral or perhaps patient psychological barriers from fear of diagnosis,” Pham said in a statement. “Lung cancer is unique in that there may be stigma associated with screening.”

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The study was funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

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