Radiologists and others launching large-scale initiative to tackle incidental lung nodule blind spot

Radiologists, pulmonologists and other lung care stakeholders are launching a nationwide initiative to tackle ongoing challenges addressing incidental pulmonary nodules that may turn out to be cancerous.

Members of the imaging community are well aware of this concern: U.S. docs detect 1.57 million such nodules on CT scans ordered for other reasons each year. And roughly 4% (or 63,000) lead to lung cancer within two years. Yet oftentimes, processes are not in place to close this loop and follow up on incidentalomas.

The patient- and survivor-established GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer is responding this week by kicking off a new initiative. Working with 850 lung cancer centers of excellence, they’re identifying nodule-management best practices and offering guidance to those without programs in place.

“It is extremely important that facilities have a process to identify, track and manage incidental lung nodules,” radiologist Debra Dyer, MD, a member of the new task force and chair of National Jewish Health’s Department of Radiology in Denver, said Thursday. “Having a well-organized process for monitoring IPNs is a valuable adjunct to formal lung cancer screening programs.”

Individuals with incidental nodules make up the largest segment of asymptomatic lung cancer patients. But GO2 and its centers of excellence have found that only 50% of patients diagnosed with the disease following an incidental finding do not currently meet screening criteria.

As part of its effort, the foundation has created a new Thoracic Oncology Business Model. It allows lung programs to work directly with hospital administration to make their business case for a comprehensive early detection program.  

Dyer and the new task force are additionally creating a toolkit offering providers education, guidance on program implementation, tips to fuel growth, and potential research opportunities. They’re hosting a series of free webinars, too, with the first slated for June 14.

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