Introduction: Recruitment and nodule management are critical issues of lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). We report subjects' compliance and results of LDCT screening and management protocol in the active arm of the ITALUNG trial.
Methods: Three thousand two hundred six smokers or former smokers invited by mail were randomized to receive four annual LDCT (n = 1613) or usual care (n = 1593). Management protocol included follow-up LDCT, 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), and CT-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB).
Results: One thousand four hundred six subjects (87%) underwent baseline LDCT, and 1263 (79%) completed four screening rounds. LDCT was positive in 30.3% of the subjects at baseline and 15.8% subsequently. Twenty-one lung tumors in 20 subjects (1.5% detection) were found at baseline, and 20 lung tumors in 18 subjects (0.5% detection) in subsequent screening rounds. Ten of 18 prevalent (55%) and 13 of 17 incident (76%) non-small-cell cancers were in stage I. Interval growth enabled diagnosis of lung cancer in 16 subjects (42%), but at least one follow-up LDCT was obtained in 741 subjects (52.7%) over the screening period. FDG-PET obtained in 6.5% of subjects had 84% sensitivity and 90% specificity for malignant lesions. FNAB obtained in 2.4% of subjects showed 90% sensitivity and 88% specificity. Positivity of both FDG-PET and FNAB invariably predicted malignancy. Surgery for benign lesions was performed on four subjects (10% of procedures) but followed protocol violations on three subjects.
Conclusions: High-risk subjects recruited by mail who entered LDCT screening showed a high and stable compliance. Efficacy of screening is, however, weakened by low detection rate and specificity. Adhesion to management protocol might lessen surgery for benign lesions.