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Am J Respir Med. 2002;1(6):393-401.

Lung cancer screening: will the controversy extend to its cost-effectiveness?

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  • 1Caro Research Institute, Concord, Massachusetts, USA.


Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. It has been shown that when treated in its early stages, survival rates improve. Despite this, controversy remains regarding screening for the early detection of lung cancer, primarily because mortality reductions were not observed in the trials that studied chest x-ray and sputum cytology. Nevertheless, renewed interest in screening, due in part to better screening options, has prompted further research exploring the potential cost-effectiveness of implementing lung cancer screening programs. This article provides a critical review of the literature of economic evaluations of lung cancer screening programs. The focus of this review is the methodology implemented in these studies. Based on an electronic search of the literature (Pubmed, Medline and CancerLit) from Sep 1988-Sep 2001, seven articles that quantified the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening programs were identified. For most of the studies, the cost-effectiveness aspect was a minor component with little or no description of the methods. Although some studies focused more on estimating the economic efficiency of screening, their methodology was weak and still not well documented. Only two studies implemented fully a cost-effectiveness analysis and provided the necessary level of detail. If consensus can be reached regarding the clinical benefit of lung cancer screening, future studies related to cost-effectiveness would have to be implemented on much sounder methodology. The publications reviewed do provide preliminary support for the economic efficiency of screening for lung cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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