Background: Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the world. Nonetheless, public policy organizations have consistently recommended against screening for lung cancer, with the result that screening is not widely practiced. The Como Conference was undertaken to consider the need for a change in the existing recommendations against screening.
Purpose: The primary objective of the Como Conference was to consider whether there is sufficient scientific evidence to advise screening for lung cancer among asymptomatic individuals outside the context of a clinical trial. Methodological issues that are relevant to the proper interpretation of early detection trials were carefully considered. Advantages and problems associated with technological advances in CT scans and digital chest radiographs (CXRs) were fully explored. Economic issues relevant to screening were also considered.
Recommendations: It is recommended that physicians assume responsibility for informing high-risk individuals regarding options for screening for lung cancer. Targeted high-risk individuals include middle-aged or elderly men and women who are current or former cigarette smokers of > 20 to 30 pack-years without serious medical comorbidities. It is recommended that such persons be informed that symptomatic lung cancer is usually advanced and incurable, while surgery for early lung cancer offers a far better chance of cure. They should also be informed about advances in imaging technology, as they relate to CT scans and CXRs.
Conclusions: Whenever possible, high-risk individuals should be encouraged to enroll in ongoing trials. For subjects who, though eligible, do not have access to such trials, a process of shared decision-making between physicians and at-risk individuals is strongly recommended. After discussion of the existing state of knowledge, high-risk individuals should be made aware that it is reasonable for them to choose to undergo testing for lung cancer.