Quantifying Benefits and Harms of Lung Cancer Screening in an Underserved Population: Results From a Prospective Study

Cherie P. Erkmen, Simran Randhawa, Freda Patterson, Rachel Kim, Mark Weir, Grace X. Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Lung cancer screening with annual low-dose computed tomography reduces lung cancer death by 20–26%. However, potential harms of screening include false-positive results, procedures from false positives, procedural complications and failure to adhere to follow-up recommendations. In diverse, underserved populations, it is unknown if benefits of early lung cancer detection outweigh harms. We conducted a prospective observational study of lung cancer screening participants in an urban, safety-net institution from September 2014 to June 2020. We measured benefits of screening in terms of cancer diagnosis, stage, and treatment. We measured harms of screening by calculating false-positive rate, procedures as a result of false positive screens, procedural complications, and failure to follow-up with recommended care. Of patients with 3-year follow up, we measured these same outcomes in addition to compliance with annual screening. Of 1509 participants, 55.6% were African American, 35.2% White, 8.1% Hispanic, and 0.5% Asian. Screening resulted in cancer detection and treatment in 2.8%. False positive and procedure as a result of a false positive occurred in 9.2% and 0.8% of participants, respectively with no major complications from diagnostic procedures or treatment. Adherence to annual screening was low, 18.7%, 3.7%, and 0.4% at 1, 2, and 3 years after baseline screening respectively. Multidisciplinary lung cancer screening in a safety-net institution can successfully detect and treat lung cancer with few harms of false-positive screens, procedure after false-positive screens and major complications. However, adherence to annual screening is poor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-700
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • African American
  • False positive
  • Harms of lung cancer screening
  • Implementation
  • Lung cancer screening
  • Underserved populations
  • Unnecessary procedures


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