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Radiology. 2004 Apr;231(1):164-8. Epub 2004 Feb 27.

CT screening for lung cancer: suspiciousness of nodules according to size on baseline scans.

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Department of Radiology and Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 525 E 68th St, New York, NY 10021, USA.



To assess the frequency with which a particular, possibly optimal work-up of noncalcified nodules less than 5.0 mm in diameter identified on initial computed tomographic (CT) images at baseline screening leads to a diagnosis of malignancy prior to first annual repeat screening, compared with a possibly optimal work-up of larger nodules.


Two series of baseline CT screenings in high-risk people were retrospectively reviewed. The first series (n = 1,000) was performed in 1993-1998; the second (n = 1,897), in 1999-2002. In each series, cases in which the largest noncalcified nodule detected was less than 5.0 mm in diameter and those in which it was 5.0-9 mm were reviewed to determine whether diagnostic work-up prior to first annual repeat screening showed or would have shown nodule growth and led or would have led to a diagnosis based on biopsy or surgical specimens.


The frequency with which malignancy was or could have been diagnosed when the largest noncalcified nodule was less than 5.0 mm in diameter was 0 of 378, whereas when the largest noncalcified nodule was 5.0-9 mm in diameter, the frequency was 13 or 14 of 238. If persons with only nodules smaller than 5.0 mm had merely been referred for first annual repeat screening without immediate further work-up, the referrals for such work-up would have been reduced by 54% (from 817 [28%] to 385 [13%] of 2,897).


In modern CT screening for lung cancer at baseline, detected noncalcified nodules smaller than 5.0 mm in diameter do not justify immediate work-up but only annual repeat screening to determine whether interim growth has occurred.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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