Implementing Lung Cancer Screening in Europe: Taking a Systems Approach

JTO Clin Res Rep. 2022 Apr 22;3(5):100329. doi: 10.1016/j.jtocrr.2022.100329. eCollection 2022 May.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Europe. Screening by means of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) can shift detection to an earlier stage and reduce lung cancer mortality in high-risk individuals. However, to date, Poland, Croatia, Italy, and Romania are the only European countries to commit to large-scale implementation of targeted LDCT screening. Using a health systems approach, this article evaluates key factors needed to enable the successful implementation of screening programs across Europe. Recent literature on LDCT screening was reviewed for 10 countries (Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom) and complemented by 17 semistructured interviews with local experts. Research findings were mapped against a health systems framework adapted for lung cancer screening. The European policy landscape is highly variable, but potential barriers to implementation are similar across countries and consistent with those reported for other cancer screening programs. While consistent quality and safety of screening must be ensured across all screening centers, system factors are also important. These include appropriate data infrastructure, targeted recruitment methods that ensure equity in participation, sufficient capacity and workforce training, full integration of screening with multidisciplinary care pathways, and smoking cessation programs. Stigma and underlying perceptions of lung cancer as a self-inflicted condition are also important considerations. Building on decades of implementation research, governments now have a unique opportunity to establish effective, efficient, and equitable lung cancer screening programs adapted to their health systems, curbing the impact of lung cancer on their populations.

Keywords: Computed tomography; Early detection; Lung cancer; Policy; Screening.

Publication types

  • Review