Patients undergoing lung cancer screening experience elevated levels of distress
Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening is recommended to screen patients with an increased risk of developing lung cancer, but little research regarding the emotional toll of screening has been conducted. Researchers from Stony Brook Cancer Center in Stony Brook, New York found 43 percent of patients undergoing LDCT experienced elevated distress before screening, and one-third of patients experienced continued distress even after being told there was no sign of cancer.
Risk factors for increased distress post-screening included female gender, being a current smoker, and having a prior personal history of lung disease. Researchers found that the findings support the need for distress monitoring and possible clinical intervention to support the well being of patients undergoing lung cancer screening.
"Elevated levels of distress may serve as barriers to care and negatively impact health-related quality of life among patients being screened for lung cancer," said Dr. April Plank, Stony Brook Cancer Center, and lead researcher, "it is imperative that lung cancer screening programs take into consideration the psychological well being of patients—especially women, current smokers, and those with a history of lung disease, who appear to be at greater risk for psychological and emotional distress."