ACR lauds study showing low CT screening anxiety

ACR lauds study showing low CT screening anxiety

By staff writers

July 25, 2014 — The American College of Radiology (ACR) is praising the results of a new study showing that initial false-positive results from lung cancer screening do not cause undue patient anxiety.

The study, published July 25 in Cancer, makes it clear “that the lifesaving benefit of these exams in high-risk patients far outweighs any downside,” said Dr. Ella Kazerooni, chair of the ACR’s Lung Screening Committee.

The results make it clear that unsubstantiated claims of systemic and harmful patient anxiety should be “put to rest” and not used as a reason to delay implementation of lung cancer screening adoption, she added.

In the study, researchers found that participants in the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) who had an initial abnormal result at CT lung cancer screening and had to wait sometimes for months to determine their true cancer status had no more anxiety than patients with negative screening results.

Even so, imaging professionals continue to work to reduce the incidence of false-positive screening results and ensure that follow-up exams are as minimally invasive as possible, ACR said. Clinicians also continue to improve the reporting process so that patients receive their results as soon as possible.

NLST results published in 2011 showed that CT screening of high-risk smokers and former smokers for lung cancer significantly reduced lung cancer deaths, and that screening appears to be cost-effective, although final cost-effectiveness analyses have not yet been published.

Because screening was approved by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Affordable Care Act now requires lung cancer screening to be made available free of cost to covered individuals. At the same time, however, screening of Medicare recipients is being considered separately by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which will issue its final decision by February 2015.