Background:

Lung cancer screening (LCS) with low-dose CT (LDCT) was implemented in the United States following the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST). The real-world benefits of implementing LCS are yet to be determined with outcome-oriented data. The study objective is to investigate the characteristics and outcomes of screening-detected lung cancers.

Methods:

This single-institution retrospective study included LCS patients between June 2014 and December 2019. Patient demographics, number of screening rounds, imaging features, clinical workup, disease extent, histopathology, treatment, complications, and mortality outcomes of screening-detected lung cancers were extracted and compared with NLST data.

Results:

LCS LDCTs (7,480) were performed on 4,176 patients. The cancer detection rate was 3.8%, higher than reported by NLST (2.4%, P < 0.0001), and cancers were most often found in patients ≥65 years (62%), older than those in NLST (41%, P < 0.0001). The patients' ethnicity was similar to NLST, P = 0.87. Most LCS-detected cancers were early stage I tumors (71% vs. 54% in NLST, P < 0.0001). Two thirds of cancers were detected in the first round of screening (67.1%) and were multifocal lung cancers in 15%. As in NLST, the complication rate after invasive workup or surgery was low (24% vs. 28% in NLST, P = 0.32). Over a median follow-up of 3.3 years, the mortality rate was 0.45%, lower than NLST (1.33%, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions:

LCS implementation achieved a higher cancer detection rate, detection of early-stage cancers, and more multifocal lung cancers compared with the NLST, with low complications and mortality.

Impact:

The real-world implementation of LCS has been successful for detection of lung cancer with favorable outcomes.

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