AAFP: Insufficient Evidence for Low-Dose CT Lung CA Screening

Despite USPSTF recommendation for annual screening for high-risk adults, AAFP urges caution

MONDAY, Jan. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- In contrast to a recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (CT) among high-risk individuals.

Researchers from the AAFP expressed concern with the USPSTF recommendation, which was mainly based on the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST). Doug Campos-Outcalt, M.D., M.P.A., the AAFP liaison to the USPSTF, noted that the results of the other three trials included in the review failed to show the same magnitude of benefit as the NLST.

Furthermore, the study only conducted annual screening three times, but recommended screening for as long as individuals meet the criteria. Another consideration is that patients should be alerted to the fact that, although the annual CT screening scans may be covered with no copays or cost-sharing, follow-up testing may not be covered. Consequently the AAFP recommends shared decision-making between the clinician and patient and discussion of benefits and potential harms of screening.

"People need to understand that their life expectancy could be extended by this, but on the other hand, their life expectancy could be shortened by it," Campos-Outcalt said in a statement. "If they're currently smoking, a better thing to do by far is to stop smoking."

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