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Cancer. 2015 Dec 15;121(24):4341-7. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29677. Epub 2015 Sep 15.

Comorbidities, smoking status, and life expectancy among individuals eligible for lung cancer screening.

Author information

Department of Health Policy and Management, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.
Department of Behavior Science and Health Education, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.



Lung cancer screening recommendations are based on results from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST). The authors determined how the screening-eligible US population differs from NLST participants in terms of characteristics that affect their ability to benefit from screening.


The authors identified respondents to the 2012 Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a national survey of individuals aged ≥50 years who are eligible for screening based on US Preventive Services Task Force and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services criteria. Comorbidities, life expectancy, smoking history, and other characteristics were compared between the screening-eligible population and NLST participants.


The authors estimated that in 2013, 8.4 million individuals (95% confidence interval, 7.9-8.9 million individuals) would have met the eligibility criteria for lung cancer screening established by the US Preventive Services Task Force. Compared with NLST participants, HRS screening-eligible respondents were older, more likely to be current smokers, and more likely to have been diagnosed with comorbidities. The 5-year survival rate was 87% in the HRS screening-eligible individuals versus 93% in the NLST participants (P<.001, based on a 2-sided test). Life expectancy was 18.7 years in the HRS screening-eligible individuals versus 21.2 years in the NLST participants.


The US population eligible for lung cancer screening is probably less likely to benefit from early detection than NLST participants because they face a high risk of death from competing causes. The results of the current study highlight the need for smoking cessation interventions targeting those patients eligible for screening and tools to help clinicians determine the potential benefits of screening in individual patients.


comorbidity; early detection of cancer; life expectancy; lung neoplasms; population characteristics; smoking

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