Airflow Limitation and Histology-shift in the National Lung Screening Trial: the NLST-ACRIN Cohort Substudy (N=18, 714).
Young RP, Duan F, Chiles C, Hopkins RJ, Gamble GD, Greco EM, Gatsonis C, Aberle D
RATIONALE: Annual computed tomography (CT) is now widely recommended for lung cancer screening in the United States, although concerns remain regarding the potential harms, including those from overdiagnosis.
OBJECTIVES: To examine the effect of airflow limitation on overdiagnosis by comparing lung cancer incidence, histology, and stage shift in a subgroup of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST).
METHODS: In an NLST subgroup (n = 18,714), screening participants were randomized to annual computed tomography (CT, n = 9,357) or chest radiograph (n = 9,357) screening and monitored for a mean of 6.1 years. After baseline prebronchodilator spirometry, to identify the presence of airflow limitation, 18,475 subjects (99%) were assigned as having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or no COPD. Lung cancer prevalence, incidence, histology, and stage shift were compared after stratification by COPD.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: For screening participants with spirometric COPD (n = 6,436), there was a twofold increase in lung cancer incidence (incident rate ratio, 2.15; P < 0.001) and, when compared according to screening arm, no excess lung cancers and comparable histology. Compared with chest radiography, there was also a trend favoring reduced late-stage and increased early-stage cancers in the CT arm (P = 0.054). For those with normal baseline spirometry (n = 12,039), we found an excess of lung cancers during screening in the CT arm, almost exclusively early-stage adenocarcinoma-related cancers (histology shift and overdiagnosis). After correction for these excess cancers, stage shift was marginal (P = 0.077).
CONCLUSIONS: In the CT arm of the NLST-ACRIN (American College of Radiology Imaging Network) cohort, COPD status was associated with a doubling of lung cancer incidence, no apparent overdiagnosis, and a more favorable stage shift.