CHAPEL HILL – Although national guidelines advise doctors to discuss the benefits and harms of lung cancer screening with high-risk patients because of a high rate of false positives and other factors, those conversations aren’t happening the way they should be, according to a study by researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Lung cancer screening is recommended for high-risk current and former smokers, but because of the potential harms of screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and other organizations advise physicians and patients to discuss the potential risks and benefits of screening. UNC Lineberger researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine that their analysis of 14 audio-recorded office visit discussions between doctors and patients found the quality of the conversation about lung cancer screening was “poor” and discussion of the potential harms of screening was “virtually nonexistent.” In addition, the doctors spent less than a minute, on average, discussing the issue.
“We’re not taking a side as to whether lung cancer screening is good or bad, but there seems to be a consensus that we should be sharing these complex decisions with patients,” said UNC Lineberger’s Daniel Reuland, MD, MPH, director of UNC Lineberger’s
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