Standardizing chest CT reporting ups odds of early lung cancer diagnosis by nearly 25%

Standardizing CT reporting helps up the odds of early lung cancer diagnosis by nearly 25%, according to a study publish in November’s edition of Chest.

Kaiser Permanente’s system works by dividing patients with suspicious nodules into eight separate categories, similar to screening mammography. It then automatically refers individuals with a score of 5 to a triage physician for treatment recommendations.

Experts noted that it has traditionally been harder to implement standardization in chest CT, due to the wider range of potential findings.

“Historically, no guidelines have been in place for radiologists to follow for reporting their results,” study co-author Lori Sakoda, PhD, a research scientist with the Oakland, California-based hospital giant, said in a Nov. 4 statement.

To gauge their success, Sakoda and colleagues conducted an observational study that incorporated 99,000 patients who had a chest scan between 2015 and 2017. About 40% were tagged by the new system and 2.9% ended up having lung cancer. Those who were reviewed using this new methodology had a 24% greater chance of early lung cancer diagnoses compared to those imaged prior to the intervention.

Co-author Ashish Patel, MD, helped develop the care navigation process, with category 5 cases moving to a pulmonologist or thoracic surgeon. Clinicians then discuss the more complicated scenarios at weekly multidisciplinary meetings, either taking over an individual’s care plan or making suggestions to the person’s primary care doc.

The analysis did not determine whether the new reporting system shortened the window from diagnosis to surgery, but Kaiser next hopes to investigate its impact on survival rates.