Incorporating Coexisting Chronic Illness into Decisions about Patient Selection for Lung Cancer Screening. An Official American Thoracic Society Research Statement

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Abstract

Background: Lung cancer screening (LCS) has the potential to reduce the risk of lung cancer death in healthy individuals, but the impact of coexisting chronic illnesses on LCS outcomes has not been well defined. Consideration of the complex relationship between baseline risk of lung cancer, treatment-related harms, and risk of death from competing causes is crucial in determining the balance of benefits and harms of LCS.

Objectives: To summarize evidence, identify knowledge and research gaps, prioritize topics, and propose methods for future research on how best to incorporate comorbidities in making decisions regarding LCS.

Methods: A multidisciplinary group of international clinicians and researchers reviewed available data on the effects of comorbidities on LCS outcomes, focusing on the juxtaposition of lung cancer risk and competing risks of death, consideration of benefits and risks in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, communication of risk, and treatment of screen-detected lung cancer.

Results: This statement identifies gaps in knowledge regarding how comorbidities and competing causes of death impact outcomes in LCS, and we have developed questions to help guide future research efforts to better inform patient selection, education, and implementation of LCS.

Conclusions: There is an urgent need for further research that can help guide clinical decision-making with patients who may not benefit from LCS owing to coexisting chronic illness. This statement establishes a research framework to address essential questions regarding how to incorporate and communicate risks of comorbidities into patient selection and decisions regarding LCS.

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