Detection of lung cancer through low-dose CT screening (NELSON): a prespecifi ed analysis of screening test performance and interval cancers

Nanda Horeweg*, Ernst Th Scholten, Pim A. de Jong, Carlijn M. van der Aalst, Carla Weenink, Jan-Willem J. Lammers, Kristiaan Nackaerts, Rozemarijn Vliegenthart, Kevin ten Haaf, Uraujh A. Yousaf-Khan, Marjolein A. Heuvelmans, Erik Thunnissen, Matthijs Oudkerk, Willem Mali, Harry J. de Koning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

230 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Low-dose CT screening is recommended for individuals at high risk of developing lung cancer. However, CT screening does not detect all lung cancers: some might be missed at screening, and others can develop in the interval between screens. The NELSON trial is a randomised trial to assess the effect of screening with increasing screening intervals on lung cancer mortality. In this prespecified analysis, we aimed to assess screening test performance, and the epidemiological, radiological, and clinical characteristics of interval cancers in NELSON trial participants assigned to the screening group.

Methods Eligible participants in the NELSON trial were those aged 50-75 years, who had smoked 15 or more cigarettes per day for more than 25 years or ten or more cigarettes for more than 30 years, and were still smoking or had quit less than 10 years ago. We included all participants assigned to the screening group who had attended at least one round of screening. Screening test results were based on volumetry using a two-step approach. Initially, screening test results were classified as negative, indeterminate, or positive based on nodule presence and volume. Subsequently, participants with an initial indeterminate result underwent follow-up screening to classify their final screening test result as negative or positive, based on nodule volume doubling time. We obtained information about all lung cancer diagnoses made during the first three rounds of screening, plus an additional 2 years of follow-up from the national cancer registry. We determined epidemiological, radiological, participant, and tumour characteristics by reassessing medical files, screening CTs, and clinical CTs. The NELSON trial is registered at www.trialregister.nl, number ISRCTN63545820.

Findings 15 822 participants were enrolled in the NELSON trial, of whom 7915 were assigned to low-dose CT screening with increasing interval between screens, and 7907 to no screening. We included 7155 participants in our study, with median follow-up of 8.16 years (IQR 7.56-8.56). 187 (3%) of 7155 screened participants were diagnosed with 196 screen-detected lung cancers, and another 34 (

Interpretation Lung cancer screening in the NELSON trial yielded high specificity and sensitivity, with only a small number of interval cancers. The results of this study could be used to improve screening algorithms, and reduce the number of missed cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1342-1350
Number of pages9
JournalLancet Oncology
Volume15
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2014

Keywords

  • COMPUTED-TOMOGRAPHY SCANNER
  • EMISSION-TOMOGRAPHY
  • PULMONARY NODULES
  • HEAVY SMOKERS
  • SPIRAL CT
  • TRIAL
  • MANAGEMENT
  • PROGRAM
  • PROJECT
  • DESIGN

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