Journal of Thoracic Oncology Publishes Baptist Cancer Center Research

Dr. Raymond Osarogiagbon, the chief scientist for Baptist Memorial Health Care/director of the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program and the Thoracic Oncology Research Group for Baptist Cancer Center, led a team that conducted research published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

The research showed adopting a lung nodule program (LNP) may increase the detection of early lung cancer for patients who are not eligible for lung cancer screening under existing age-eligibility criteria. Lung nodule programs are established to follow up on lung nodules that are frequently identified during routine imaging for reasons other than suspected lung cancer or lung cancer screening.

“Our findings indicate that our lung nodule program modestly benefitted individuals deemed too young or too old for traditional screening,” said Dr. Osarogiagbon. “The observed differences in clinical characteristics and outcomes strongly suggest variations in the biological characteristics of lung cancer in these distinct patient cohorts.”

The observational study compared the two-year cumulative lung cancer diagnosis risk, lung cancer characteristics and overall survival among participants undergoing low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening between 50 to 80 years old and LNP participants aged 35 to 50 years and older than 80.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT in adults 50 to 80 years old who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

LDCT screening for lung cancer has been shown to reduce mortality by up to 20%. However, even after lowering the age of eligibility from 55 to 50 years, most persons diagnosed with lung cancer in the U.S. are ineligible for lung cancer screening. LNPs, which typically use Fleischner Society lung nodule management guidelines, expand access to early lung cancer detection to a more diverse population.

People 50 to 80 years old enrolled in an LNP were at greater risk of a lung cancer diagnosis within two years compared to an LDCT cohort. The demographic, socioeconomic characteristics and risk factor profile of patients diagnosed with lung cancer through the lung nodule program differed strikingly from that of the screened cohort.

The lung cancer risk in persons too young or too old for screening, but who have an incidentally detected lung lesion, had not previously been rigorously estimated. According to Dr. Osarogiagbon, the study compared the cumulative lung cancer diagnosis risk, lesion characteristics, lung cancer characteristics, treatment and outcomes of screening age-ineligible persons in a lung nodule program to an LDCT screening cohort.