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Insights for Management of Ground-Glass Opacities From the National Lung Screening Trial.
Pubmed ID
31125735 (View this publication on the PubMed website)
Digital Object Identifier
J Thorac Oncol. 2019 Sep; Volume 14 (Issue 9): Pages 1662-1665
Robbins HA, Katki HA, Cheung LC, Landy R, Berg CD
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France. Electronic address:
  • Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland.

BACKGROUND: In the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), screen-detected cancers that would not have been identified by the Lung Computed Tomographic Screening Reporting and Data System (Lung-RADS) nodule management guidelines were frequently ground-glass opacities (GGOs). Lung-RADS suggests that GGOs with diameter less than 20 mm return for annual screening, and GGOs greater than or equal to 20 mm receive 6-month follow-up. We examined whether this 20-mm threshold gives consistent management of GGOs compared with solid nodules.

METHODS: First, we calculated diameter-specific malignancy probabilities for GGOs and solid nodules in the NLST. Using the solid-nodule malignancy risks as benchmarks, we suggested risk-based management categories for GGOs based on their probability of malignancy. Second, we compared lung-cancer mortality between GGOs and solid nodules in the same risk-based category.

RESULTS: Using the Lung-RADS v1.0 classifications, malignancy probability is higher for GGOs than solid nodules within the same category. A risk-based classification of GGOs would assign annual screening for GGOs 4 to 5 mm (0.4% malignancy risk); 6-month follow-up for GGOs 6 to 7 mm (1.1%), 8 to 14 mm (3.0%), and 15 to 19 mm (5.2%); and 3-month follow-up for greater than or equal to 20 mm (10.9%). This reclassification would have assigned similarly fatal cancers to 3-month follow-up (hazard ratio = 2.0 for lung-cancer death in GGOs versus solid-nodule cancers, 95% confidence interval: 0.4-8.7), but for 6-month follow-up, mortality was lower in GGO cancers (hazard ratio = 0.18, 95% confidence interval: 0.05-0.67).

CONCLUSIONS: If Lung-RADS categories for GGOs were based on malignancy probability, then 6- to 19-mm GGOs would receive 6-month follow-up and greater than or equal to 20-mm GGOs would receive 3-month follow-up. Such risk-based management for GGOs could improve the sensitivity of Lung-RADS, especially for large GGO cancers. However, small GGO cancers were less aggressive than their solid-nodule counterparts.

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