Risk stratification based on screening history: the NELSON lung cancer screening study

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Abstract

Background

Debate about the optimal lung cancer screening strategy is ongoing. In this study, previous screening history of the Dutch-Belgian Lung Cancer Screening trial (NELSON) is investigated on if it predicts the screening outcome (test result and lung cancer risk) of the final screening round.

Methods

15 792 participants were randomised (1:1) of which 7900 randomised into a screening group. CT screening took place at baseline, and after 1, 2 and 2.5 years. Initially, three screening outcomes were possible: negative, indeterminate or positive scan result. Probability for screening outcome in the fourth round was calculated for subgroups of participants.

Results

Based on results of the first three rounds, three subgroups were identified: (1) those with exclusively negative results (n=3856; 73.0%); (2) those with ≥1 indeterminate result, but never a positive result (n=1342; 25.5%); and (3) with ≥1 positive result (n=81; 1.5%). Group 1 had the highest probability for having a negative scan result in round 4 (97.2% vs 94.8% and 90.1%, respectively, p<0.001), and the lowest risk for detecting lung cancer in round 4 (0.6% vs 1.6%, p=0.001). ‘Smoked pack-years’ and ‘screening history’ significantly predicted the fourth round test result. The third round results implied that the risk for detecting lung cancer (after an interval of 2.5 years) was 0.6% for those with negative results compared with 3.7% of those with indeterminate results.

Conclusions

Previous CT lung cancer screening results provides an opportunity for further risk stratifications of those who undergo lung cancer screening.

Trial registration number

Results, ISRCTN63545820.

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