Characteristics of Persons Screened for Lung Cancer in the United States : A Cohort Study

Ann Intern Med. 2022 Nov;175(11):1501-1505. doi: 10.7326/M22-1325. Epub 2022 Oct 11.


Background: Lung cancer screening (LCS) with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) was recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in 2013, making approximately 8 million Americans eligible for screening. The demographic characteristics and adherence of persons screened in the United States have not been reported at the population level.

Objective: To define sociodemographic characteristics and adherence among persons screened and entered into the American College of Radiology's Lung Cancer Screening Registry (LCSR).

Design: Cohort study.

Setting: United States, 2015 to 2019.

Participants: Persons receiving a baseline LDCT for LCS from 3625 facilities reporting to the LCSR.

Measurements: Age, sex, and smoking status distributions (percentages) were computed among persons who were screened and among respondents in the 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) who were eligible for screening. The prevalence between the LCSR and the NHIS was compared with prevalence ratios (PRs) and 95% CIs. Adherence to annual screening was defined as having a follow-up test within 11 to 15 months of an initial LDCT.

Results: Among 1 159 092 persons who were screened, 90.8% (n = 1 052 591) met the USPSTF eligibility criteria. Compared with adults from the NHIS who met the criteria (n = 1257), screening recipients in the LCSR were older (34.7% vs. 44.8% were aged 65 to 74 years; PR, 1.29 [95% CI, 1.20 to 1.39]), more likely to be female (41.8% vs. 48.1%; PR, 1.15 [CI, 1.08 to 1.23]), and more likely to currently smoke (52.3% vs. 61.4%; PR, 1.17 [CI, 1.11 to 1.23]). Only 22.3% had a repeated annual LDCT. If follow-up was extended to 24 months and more than 24 months, 34.3% and 40.3% were adherent, respectively.

Limitations: Underreporting of LCS and missing data may skew demographic characteristics of persons reported to be screened. Underreporting of adherence may result in underestimates of follow-up.

Conclusion: Approximately 91% of persons who had LCS met USPSTF eligibility criteria. In addition to continuing to target all eligible adults, men, those who formerly smoked, and younger eligible patients may be less likely to be screened. Adherence to annual follow-up screening was poor, potentially limiting screening effectiveness.

Primary funding source: None.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • United States / epidemiology