Lung cancer screening: Expert panel summary of evidence (2011)

Read this September 2011 document for current evidence about lung cancer screening using low dose computed tomography

The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) conducted by the US National Cancer Institute is the first randomized trial of adequate sample size and follow-up to evaluate the effectiveness of low dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening to reduce the number of lung cancer deaths in heavy smokers.

The trial found a significant 20 per cent reduction in lung cancer deaths, after three annual LDCT screens. Although these results are encouraging, more investigation is needed regarding the following areas:

  • Over-diagnosis
  • Net benefit versus harm
  • Screening of at-risk population
  • Frequency and duration of LDCT screening
  • Most appropriate diagnostic work-up of screen-detected abnormalities
  • Implications for public policy

This document reviews the evidence up to 2011 regarding lung cancer screening using LDCT to help health professionals and policy-makers make informed decisions about lung cancer screening in Canada.

This summary document also gives background epidemiology information on lung cancer, and outlines screening principles and disease management if abnormalities are detected. This document addresses knowledge gaps and research needs for lung cancer screening which should be considered before screening is adopted on a population basis. This document doesn’t provide definitive answers or clinical and/or policy recommendations.

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