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The person behind the nodule: a narrative review of the psychological impact of lung cancer screening

Quaife, Samantha L., Janes, Samuel M. and Brain, Kate E. 2021. The person behind the nodule: a narrative review of the psychological impact of lung cancer screening. Translational Lung Cancer Research 10 (5) , pp. 2427-2440. 10.21037/tlcr-20-1179

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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality globally, responsible for an estimated 1.76 million deaths worldwide in 2018 alone. Screening adults at high risk of lung cancer using low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) significantly reduces lung cancer mortality by finding the disease at an early, treatable stage. Many countries are actively considering whether to implement screening for their high-risk populations in light of the recently published Dutch-Belgian trial ‘NELSON’. In deciding whether to implement a national screening programme, policymakers must weigh up the evidence for the relative risks posed to the entire screened population, including the potential psychological burden. This narrative review aimed to critically summarise the evidence for both negative and positive psychological responses experienced throughout the LDCT screening pathway, to describe their magnitude, duration and clinical relevance, and to draw out different aspects of measurement design crucial to their interpretation. A further aim was to discuss the available evidence for individual differences in psychological response, as well as interventions designed to promote psychological well-being. In summary, there was no evidence that the LDCT screening process caused adverse psychological outcomes overall, although those receiving indeterminate and suspicious LDCT results did report clinically raised anxiety and lung cancer-specific distress in the short-term. There was early evidence that demographic factors, smoking status and screening-ineligibility could be associated with individual differences in propensity to experience distress. Qualitative data suggested health beliefs could be modifiable mediators of these individual differences, but their aetiology requires quantitative and prospective research. There was also some evidence of positive psychological responses that could be capitalised on, and of the potential for person-centred communication interventions to achieve this. Further research needs to be embedded in real-world LDCT lung cancer screening services and use condition-specific measures to monitor outcomes and test evidence-based communication interventions in promoting psychological well-being.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Publisher: AME Publishing
ISSN: 2218-6751
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 February 2022
Date of Acceptance: 12 March 2021
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2022 11:00

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