Nationwide lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography: implementation and first results of the HUNCHEST screening program

Eur Radiol. 2022 Jul;32(7):4457-4467. doi: 10.1007/s00330-022-08589-7. Epub 2022 Mar 5.

Abstract

Objectives: Lung cancer (LC) kills more people than any other cancer in Hungary. Hence, there is a clear rationale for considering a national screening program. The HUNCHEST pilot program primarily aimed to investigate the feasibility of a population-based LC screening in Hungary, and determine the incidence and LC probability of solitary pulmonary nodules.

Methods: A total of 1890 participants were assigned to undergo low-dose CT (LDCT) screening, with intervals of 1 year between procedures. Depending on the volume, growth, and volume doubling time (VDT), screenings were defined as negative, indeterminate, or positive. Non-calcified lung nodules with a volume > 500 mm3 and/or a VDT < 400 days were considered positive. LC diagnosis was based on histology.

Results: At baseline, the percentage of negative, indeterminate, and positive tests was 81.2%, 15.1%, and 3.7%, respectively. The frequency of positive and indeterminate LDCT results was significantly higher in current smokers (vs. non-smokers or former smokers; p < 0.0001) and in individuals with COPD (vs. those without COPD, p < 0.001). In the first screening round, 1.2% (n = 23) of the participants had a malignant lesion, whereas altogether 1.5% (n = 29) of the individuals were diagnosed with LC. The overall positive predictive value of the positive tests was 31.6%. Most lung malignancies were diagnosed at an early stage (86.2% of all cases).

Conclusions: In terms of key characteristics, our prospective cohort study appears consistent to that of comparable studies. Altogether, the results of the HUNCHEST pilot program suggest that LDCT screening may facilitate early diagnosis and thus curative-intent treatment in LC.

Key points: • The HUNCHEST pilot study is the first nationwide low-dose CT screening program in Hungary. • In the first screening round, 1.2% of the participants had a malignant lesion, whereas altogether 1.5% of the individuals were diagnosed with lung cancer. • The overall positive predictive value of the positive tests in the HUNCHEST screening program was 31.6%.

Keywords: Early detection of cancer; Low-dose CT; Lung cancer; Screening program.

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Mass Screening
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods