Lung Cancer Screening May Improve Early Detection, Survival in U.S. Veterans

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Investigators have found that U.S. veterans who underwent lung cancer screening prior to diagnosis were potentially more likely to be diagnosed with earlier-stage disease and have a higher cure rate compared with those who did not undergo screening, according to a recent study published by Edwards et al in Cancer.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality globally. Most patients with lung cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage. However, early detection through screening could reduce the rate of lung cancer mortality. Current recommendations advise adults aged 50 to 80 years with at least a 20 pack-year smoking history who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years to undergo annual imaging tests for lung cancer.

In previous studies, lung cancer screening has been shown to be beneficial, but there are limited data on its real-world effectiveness.

Study Methods and Results

In the recent observational study, the investigators examined the impact of lung cancer screening among 57,919 U.S. veterans diagnosed with lung cancer through the Veterans Health Administration health-care system between 2011 and 2018.

They discovered that 3.9% (n = 2,167) of the patients underwent lung cancer screening prior to diagnosis. After a follow-up of 5 years, the investigators revealed that compared with those who did not have screening, the patients who underwent screening had higher rates of stage I diagnoses (52% vs 27%) as well as lower rates of all-cause mortality (49.8% vs 72.1%) and cancer-related mortality (41.0% vs 70.3%).


“It is incredible to witness how dedicated national efforts to increase lung cancer screening from the Lung Precision Oncology Program can lead to substantial improvements in lung cancer outcomes,” concluded co–senior study author Michael Green, MD, PhD, of the University of Michigan and the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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®.