Differences in Patient Outcomes of Prevalence, Interval, and Screen-Detected Lung Cancers in the CT Arm of the National Lung Screening Trial.
- Author(s): Schabath, Matthew B
- Massion, Pierre P
- Thompson, Zachary J
- Eschrich, Steven A
- Balagurunathan, Yoganand
- Goldof, Dmitry
- Aberle, Denise R
- Gillies, Robert J
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159880
Lung cancer screening identifies cancers with heterogeneous behaviors. Some lung cancers will be identified among patients who had prior negative CT screens and upon follow-up scans develop a de novo nodule that was determined to be cancerous. Other lung cancers will be identified among patients who had one or more prior stable positive scans that were not determined to be lung cancer (indeterminate pulmonary nodules), but in follow-up scans was diagnosed with an incidence lung cancer. Using data from the CT arm of the National Lung Screening Trial, this analysis investigated differences in patient characteristics and survival endpoints between prevalence-, interval-, and screen-detected lung cancers, characterized based on sequence of screening results. Lung cancers immediately following a positive baseline (T0), and prior to the T1 screen, formed the prevalence cohort. Interval cancers were diagnosed following a negative screen at any time point prior to the next screening round. Two cohorts of screen-detected lung cancers (SDLC) were identified that had a baseline positive screen that was that was not determined to be lung cancer (i.e., an indeterminate pulmonary nodule), but in follow-up scans was diagnosed with an incidence lung cancer 12 (SDLC1) or 24 (SDLC2) months later. Two other incidence cohorts had screen-detected lung cancers that had baseline negative screen and upon follow-up scans developed a de novo nodule determined to be cancerous at 12 (SDLC3) or 24 (SDLC4) months later. Differences in patient characteristics, progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were assessed. The lung cancer-specific death rate was higher for SDLC3/SDLC4 compared to SDLC1/SDLC2 lung cancers (136.6/1,000 person-years vs. 71.3/1,000 person-years, P < 0.001). Moreover, PFS and OS were significantly lower for SDLC3/SDLC4 compared to SDLC1/SDLC2 (P < 0.004; P < 0.002, respectively). The findings were consistent when stratified by stage and histology. Multivariable Cox proportional models revealed that the SDLC3/SDLC4 case groups were associated with significantly poorer PFS (HR = 1.89; 95% CI 1.31-2.74) and OS (HR = 1.80; 95% CI 1.21-2.67) compared to SDLC1/SDLC2 lung cancers (HR = 1.00). Lung cancer patients who develop a de novo nodule that determined to be cancerous (i.e., at least one negative CT screen prior to cancer diagnosis) had poorer survival outcomes compared to patients who had at least one positive screen prior to cancer diagnosis. As such, the observation that de novo screen-detected are associated with poorer survival could be attributed to faster growing, more aggressive cancers that arose from a lung environment previously lacking focal abnormalities.