Low-Dose CT Linked to High False-Positive Rates

Risks for false-positive lung cancer screening results substantial after two annual exams
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- The risks for false-positive results on lung cancer screening tests are substantial after two yearly examinations, especially with low-dose computed tomography (CT), according to a study in the April 20 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Jennifer M. Croswell, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues randomized 3,190 current or former smokers, aged 55 to 74 years, with a smoking history of 30 pack-years or more and no history of lung cancer to low-dose CT or chest radiography.

The researchers found that an individual's cumulative probability of one or more false-positive results with low-dose CT was 21 percent after one screening and 33 percent after two screenings. The probability of one or more false-positive results with chest radiography was 9 percent after one screening and 15 percent after two screenings. A higher percentage of individuals with a false-positive low-dose CT result than those with a false-positive chest radiography result underwent an invasive procedure (7 versus 4 percent).

"Given the relatively high probability of a false-positive low-dose CT lung cancer screening examination, it is important that providers have careful discussions with patients who request this technology to help them weigh known harms against currently theoretical benefits," the authors write.

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