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Delays in Recommended Follow-Up after Positive Findings in Lung Cancer Screening.
Ahmed A, Hippe DS, Snidarich M, Crothers K, Triplette M. Delays in Recommended Follow-Up after Positive Findings in Lung Cancer Screening. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2023 Aug 1; 20(8):1175-1181.
Lung cancer screening (LCS) is an effective tool to reduce mortality. However, barriers along the LCS care continuum, including delay in follow-up care, may reduce effectiveness. The primary goals of this study were to evaluate delays in follow-up in patients with positive findings on LCS and to examine the impact of delay on lung cancer staging. This was a retrospective cohort study of patients enrolled in a multisite LCS program with positive LCS findings, defined as Lung Computed Tomography Screening Reporting and Data System (Lung-RADS) 3, 4A, 4B, or 4X. Time to first follow-up was evaluated with delay considered > 30 days beyond the standardized Lung-RADS recommendation. Multivariable Cox models were used to evaluate the likelihood of delay by Lung-RADS category. Participants with resultant non-small cell lung cancer were evaluated to determine if delay in follow-up was associated with clinical upstaging. Three hundred sixty-nine patients with 434 examinations had positive findings; 16% of findings were ultimately diagnosed as lung cancer. In 47% of positive examinations, there was a delay in follow-up (median delay, 104 d), representing 59% (210 d) of Lung-RADS 3 examinations, 35% (64 d) of Lung-RADS 4A examinations, and 40% (34 d) of Lung-RADS 4B/4X examinations (? < 0.001). In the 54 patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer through LCS, delay was associated with increased likelihood of clinical upstaging (? < 0.001). In this study of delay in follow-up after positive LCS findings, we found that nearly half of patients had delays in follow-up and that delay was associated with clinical upstaging in patients whose positive findings represented lung cancer. Further targeted interventions to ensure timely follow-up after positive LCS examination are critical.