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Lung Cancer Screening Rates Improved in 19 States Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic


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A new population-based study showed that although national lung cancer screening rates decreased in some states, 19 states actually experienced significant improvements in screening rates despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall lung cancer screening rates remained low and unchanged, according to findings published by Stacey Fedewa, PhD, and colleagues in the journal CHEST.

In five states (Utah, Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, and Maryland), lung cancer screening significantly decreased by 23% to 52%, including some with lower lung cancer screening rates before the pandemic.

Stacey Fedewa, PhD

Stacey Fedewa, PhD

More Findings From the Study

This study examined annual lung cancer screening rates before (2019) and during (2020) the COVID-19 pandemic nationally and by state. The report showed that nationally, lung cancer screening rates remained stable between 2019 and 2020, and just under 1 in 15 eligible persons were screened. Among 8.51 million eligible adults, only 564,164 and 557,795 adults received lung cancer screening in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Data indicated that the lack of nationwide declines could be due to underutilization of lung cancer screening before the pandemic began—where only 5% to 6% of adults received screening in 2018—limiting the room for further decreases. Furthermore, states’ stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 surges may have influenced short-term screening volumes, though there was not a clear pattern with annual lung cancer screening rates. During the same period, screening rates were unchanged in 25 states.

Screening rates, however, increased between 2019 and 2020 for 19 states, suggesting that health systems and local and state-level cancer control efforts played a role in improving lung cancer screening. For example, Kentucky, which has one of the nation’s highest lung cancer screening rates, has made concerted efforts to improve its screening practices since 2013.

“This is just one of the many research studies informing on cancer care during the pandemic,” wrote the authors. “Best practices from successful state and local lung cancer screening programs could inform ongoing efforts to detect lung cancers early.”

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit journal.chestnet.org.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.
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