Follow-up procedures may be riskier than thought following lung cancer screening

February 8, 2019 (National Cancer Institute) 

A new study shows that follow-up diagnostic procedures, including invasive ones, can cause more complications to those with lung cancer.

After analyzing information from medical insurance claims of over 300,000 people, researchers estimated that complication rates were about doubled to those people who were treated in community medical practices or hospitals that are more of a controlled clinical trial setting.

Researchers found that low-dose CT screening was more efficient than chest x-rays when it comes to detecting early signs of lung cancer in people who are at a higher risk. The one risk for low-dose CT is that the results are often incorrect. Many times, the results will show a false-positive result for cancer. During the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), nearly one-fourth of participants had a false-positive result after a screening in 2010.

It was estimated that fewer than 5% of people who have done a screening with low-dose CT are likely to have a mandatory follow up that includes an invasive procedure, such as a needle biopsy, thoracic surgery and bronchoscopy. Many risks for complications arise when it comes to invasive procedures.

It is important for patients to be aware of all of the complications that can be caused by invasive procedures. In order to reduce the possibility for complications, patients should also try to find a high-quality provider when proceeding with an invasive procedure.

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