Risk-stratified Approach for Never- and Ever-Smokers in Lung Cancer Screening: A Prospective Cohort Study in China

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2023 Jan 1;207(1):77-88. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202204-0727OC.


Rationale: Over 40% of lung cancer cases occurred in never-smokers in China. However, high-risk never-smokers were precluded from benefiting from lung cancer screening as most screening guidelines did not consider them. Objectives: We sought to develop and validate prediction models for 3-year lung cancer risks for never- and ever-smokers, named the China National Cancer Center Lung Cancer models (China NCC-LCm2021 models). Methods: 425,626 never-smokers and 128,952 ever-smokers from the National Lung Cancer Screening program were used as the training cohort and analyzed using multivariable Cox models. Models were validated in two independent prospective cohorts: one included 369,650 never-smokers and 107,678 ever-smokers (841 and 421 lung cancers), and the other included 286,327 never-smokers and 78,469 ever-smokers (503 and 127 lung cancers). Measurements and Main Results: The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves in the two validation cohorts were 0.698 and 0.673 for never-smokers and 0.728 and 0.752 for ever-smokers. Our models had higher areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves than other existing models and were well calibrated in the validation cohort. The China NCC-LCm2021 ⩾0.47% threshold was suggested for never-smokers and ⩾0.51% for ever-smokers. Moreover, we provided a range of threshold options with corresponding expected screening outcomes, screening targets, and screening efficiency. Conclusion: The construction of the China NCC-LCm2021 models can accurately reflect individual risk of lung cancer, regardless of smoking status. Our models can significantly increase the feasibility of conducting centralized lung cancer screening programs because we provide justified thresholds to define the high-risk population of lung cancer and threshold options to adapt different configurations of medical resources.

Keywords: ever-smokers; lung cancer screening; never-smokers; prediction model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smokers
  • Smoking / epidemiology