Study: Lung Cancer Screening Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

A review found a decline in lung cancer screening, but an overall rise in malignancies since the COVID-19 pandemic. The article appeared in Journal of the American College of Surgeons

In this study, researchers compared monthly visits for low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening for lung cancer during the three months of COVID-19 restrictions  The institution suspended LDCT on March 13 and began a phased reopening on May 5 with a full opening on June 1, according to the researchers.

“We had 800 scans cancelled during that time and even during the resumed period, we had a decreased total volume of patients scanned and also noted a decreased number of new patients who were scanned for their lung cancer screening,” said lead author Robert M. Van Haren, MD, MSPH, FACS, an assistant professor and thoracic surgeon at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a member of Cincinnati Research in Outcomes and Safety in Surgery (CROSS) within the department of surgery via a press release.

“Also when we resumed our operations, we found that new patients were less likely to come back to our screening program,” Dr. Van Haren added. They reported that new patient monthly LDCT rates have remained low despite resuming full operations.


“We also found that patients were more likely not to show up for their CT appointments, and this rate was again significantly increased compared with baseline,” Dr. Van Haren said. The no-show rate went from 15 percent before the COVID-19 restrictions to 40 percent afterward (p<0.04).

“Our results are important and suggest that it’s critical to continue cancer screening operations, such as our lung cancer screening, during this pandemic,” Dr. Van Haren said. “It’s maybe more important now as we continue to undergo another surge of COVID-19 cases throughout the country.”