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Am Fam Physician. 2023;107(5):462-463

This clinical content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial relationships.

Clinical Question

Does low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening for lung cancer reduce lung cancer–related mortality and what are the harms?

Evidence-Based Answer

Low-dose CT screening decreases deaths from lung cancer in people 40 years and older with an absolute risk reduction of approximately 0.4% and a number needed to screen of approximately 226 people over an average of 8.8 years of follow-up to prevent one death. Low-dose CT screening is associated with harms, including overdiagnosis and false-positive results, with a number needed to screen to produce one harmful outcome of approximately 44.1 (Strength of Recommendation: A, systematic review of randomized controlled trials.)

Practice Pointers

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the world, with an estimated 139,600 lung cancer deaths in the United States in 2019.2,3 Tobacco smoking is the most significant risk factor for developing lung cancer. Low-dose CT screening is an established tool used to detect lung cancer at an early stage.4 The authors of the Cochrane review sought to determine if low-dose CT screening reduces lung cancer–related mortality and the possible harms associated with screening.1

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These are summaries of reviews from the Cochrane Library.

This series is coordinated by Corey D. Fogleman, MD, assistant medical editor.

A collection of Cochrane for Clinicians published in AFP is available at

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