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JAMA Netw Open


Importance: The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released updated lung cancer screening recommendations in 2021, lowering the screening age from 55 to 50 years and smoking history from 30 to 20 pack-years. These changes are expected to expand screening access to women and racial and ethnic minority groups.

Objective: To estimate the population-level changes associated with the 2021 USPSTF expansion of lung cancer screening eligibility by sex, race and ethnicity, sociodemographic factors, and comorbidities in 5 community-based health care systems.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study analyzed data of patients who received care from any of 5 community-based health care systems (which are members of the Population-based Research to Optimize the Screening Process Lung Consortium, a collaboration that conducts research to better understand how to improve the cancer screening processes in community health care settings) from January 1, 2010, through September 30, 2019. Individuals who had complete smoking history and were engaged with the health care system for 12 or more continuous months were included. Those who had never smoked or who had unknown smoking history were excluded.

Exposures: Electronic health record-derived age, sex, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), comorbidities, and smoking history.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Differences in the proportion of the newly eligible population by age, sex, race and ethnicity, Charlson Comorbidity Index, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease diagnosis, and SES as well as lung cancer diagnoses under the 2013 recommendations vs the expected cases under the 2021 recommendations were evaluated using χ2 tests.

Results: As of September 2019, there were 341 163 individuals aged 50 to 80 years who currently or previously smoked. Among these, 34 528 had electronic health record data that captured pack-year and quit-date information and were eligible for lung cancer screening according to the 2013 USPSTF recommendations. The 2021 USPSTF recommendations expanded screening eligibility to 18 533 individuals, representing a 53.7% increase. Compared with the 2013 cohort, the newly eligible 2021 population included 5833 individuals (31.5%) aged 50 to 54 years, a larger proportion of women (52.0% [n = 9631]), and more racial or ethnic minority groups. The relative increases in the proportion of newly eligible individuals were 60.6% for Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander; 67.4% for Hispanic; 69.7% for non-Hispanic Black; and 49.0% for non-Hispanic White groups. The relative increase for women was 13.8% higher than for men (61.2% vs 47.4%), and those with a lower comorbidity burden and lower SES had higher relative increases (eg, 68.7% for a Charlson Comorbidity Index score of 0; 61.1% for lowest SES). The 2021 recommendations were associated with an estimated 30% increase in incident lung cancer diagnoses compared with the 2013 recommendations.

Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort study suggests that, in diverse health care systems, adopting the 2021 USPSTF recommendations will increase the number of women, racial and ethnic minority groups, and individuals with lower SES who are eligible for lung cancer screening, thus helping to minimize the barriers to screening access for individuals with high risk for lung cancer.

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