Background: Numerous health policy organizations recommend lung cancer screening, but no consensus exists on the optimal policy. Moreover, the impact of the Lung CT screening reporting and data system guidelines to manage small pulmonary nodules of unknown significance (a.k.a. indeterminate nodules) on the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening is not well established.
Methods: We assess the cost-effectiveness of 199 screening strategies that vary in terms of age and smoking eligibility criteria, using a microsimulation model. We simulate lung cancer-related events throughout the lifetime of US-representative current and former smokers. We conduct sensitivity analyses to test key model inputs and assumptions.
Results: The cost-effectiveness efficiency frontier consists of both annual and biennial screening strategies. Current guidelines are not on the frontier. Assuming 4% disutility associated with indeterminate findings, biennial screening for smokers aged 50-70 years with at least 40 pack-years and less than 10 years since smoking cessation is the cost-effective strategy using $100 000 willingness-to-pay threshold yielding the highest health benefit. Among all health utilities, the cost-effectiveness of screening is most sensitive to changes in the disutility of indeterminate findings. As the disutility of indeterminate findings decreases, screening eligibility criteria become less stringent and eventually annual screening for smokers aged 50-70 years with at least 30 pack-years and less than 10 years since smoking cessation is the cost-effective strategy yielding the highest health benefit.
Conclusions: The disutility associated with indeterminate findings impacts the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening. Efforts to quantify and better understand the impact of indeterminate findings on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening are warranted.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.