Evaluation of Lung Cancer Risk Among Persons Undergoing Screening or Guideline-Concordant Monitoring of Lung Nodules in the Mississippi Delta


Importance: Guideline-concordant management of lung nodules promotes early lung cancer diagnosis, but the lung cancer risk profile of persons with incidentally detected lung nodules differs from that of screening-eligible persons. Objective: To compare lung cancer diagnosis hazard between participants receiving low-dose computed tomography screening (LDCT cohort) and those in a lung nodule program (LNP cohort). Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study included LDCT vs LNP enrollees from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2021, who were seen in a community health care system. Participants were prospectively identified, data were abstracted from clinical records, and survival was updated at 6-month intervals. The LDCT cohort was stratified by Lung CT Screening Reporting and Data System as having no potentially malignant lesions (Lung-RADS 1-2 cohort) vs those with potentially malignant lesions (Lung-RADS 3-4 cohort), and the LNP cohort was stratified by smoking history into screening-eligible vs screening-ineligible groups. Participants with prior lung cancer, younger than 50 years or older than 80 years, and lacking a baseline Lung-RADS score (LDCT cohort only) were excluded. Participants were followed up to January 1, 2022. Main Outcomes and Measures: Comparative cumulative rates of lung cancer diagnosis and patient, nodule, and lung cancer characteristics between programs, using LDCT as a reference. Results: There were 6684 participants in the LDCT cohort (mean [SD] age, 65.05 [6.11] years; 3375 men [50.49%]; 5774 [86.39%] in the Lung-RADS 1-2 and 910 [13.61%] in the Lung-RADS 3-4 cohorts) and 12 645 in the LNP cohort (mean [SD] age, 65.42 [8.33] years; 6856 women [54.22%]; 2497 [19.75%] screening eligible and 10 148 [80.25%] screening ineligible). Black participants constituted 1244 (18.61%) of the LDCT cohort, 492 (19.70%) of the screening-eligible LNP cohort, and 2914 (28.72%) of the screening-ineligible LNP cohort (P < .001). The median lesion size was 4 (IQR, 2-6) mm for the LDCT cohort (3 [IQR, 2-4] mm for Lung-RADS 1-2 and 9 [IQR, 6-15] mm for Lung-RADS 3-4 cohorts), 9 (IQR, 6-16) mm for the screening-eligible LNP cohort, and 7 (IQR, 5-11) mm for the screening-ineligible LNP cohort. In the LDCT cohort, lung cancer was diagnosed in 80 participants (1.44%) in the Lung-RADS 1-2 cohort and 162 (17.80%) in the Lung-RADS 3-4 cohort; in the LNP cohort, it was diagnosed in 531 (21.27%) in the screening-eligible cohort and 447 (4.40%) in the screening-ineligible cohort. Compared with Lung-RADS 1-2, the fully adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) were 16.2 (95% CI, 12.7-20.6) for the screening-eligible cohort and 3.8 (95% CI, 3.0-5.0) for the screening-ineligible cohort; compared with Lung-RADS 3-4, the aHRs were 1.2 (95% CI, 1.0-1.5) and 0.3 (95% CI, 0.2-0.4), respectively. The stage of lung cancer was I to II in 156 of 242 patients (64.46%) in the LDCT cohort, 276 of 531 (52.00%) in the screening-eligible LNP cohort, and 253 of 447 (56.60%) in the screening-ineligible LNP cohort. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, the cumulative lung cancer diagnosis hazard of screening-age persons enrolled in the LNP was higher than that in a screening cohort, irrespective of smoking history. The LNP provided access to early detection for a higher proportion of Black persons.

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JAMA network open