Impact of lung cancer screening results on participant health-related quality of life and state anxiety in the National Lung Screening Trial

Cancer. 2014 Nov 1;120(21):3401-9. doi: 10.1002/cncr.28833. Epub 2014 Jul 25.


Background: Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung screening has been associated with a 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality. A major barrier to the adoption of lung screening is the potential negative psychological impact of a false-positive (FP) screen, occurring in 20% to 50% of those screened. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of abnormal findings on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and anxiety in the American College of Radiology (ACRIN)/National Lung Screening Trial (NLST).

Methods: The NLST was a randomized screening trial comparing LDCT with chest X-ray screening (CXR). This study was part of the original protocol. A total of 2812 participants at 16 of 23 ACRIN sites who had baseline HRQoL assessments were asked to complete the Short Form-36 and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (form Y-1) questionnaires to assess short-term (1 month) and long-term (6 months) effects of screening. FP were lung cancer-free at 1 year, and true-positives (TP) were not.

Results: Of the total participants, 1024 (36.4%) participants were FP, 63 (2.2%) were TP, 344 (12.2%) had significant incidental findings (SIFs), and 1381 (49.1%) had negative screens. Participants had been randomized to LDCT (n = 1947) and CXR (n = 865). Short-term and long-term HRQoL and state anxiety did not differ across participants with FP, SIF, or negative screens. Short-term and long-term HRQoL were lower and anxiety was higher for TP participants compared to participants with FP, SIF, and negative screens.

Conclusions: In a large multicenter lung screening trial, participants receiving a false-positive or SIF screen result experienced no significant difference in HRQoL or state anxiety at 1 or at 6 months after screening relative to those receiving a negative result.

Keywords: anxiety; clinical trials; lung cancer; quality of life; screening.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / pathology
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*