MONTRÉAL, CANADA—Nearly half of patients who undergo low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening experience heightened levels of distress and approximately one-third continue to experience distress despite receiving a clean bill of health after screening, a new study that will be presented at CHEST Annual Meeting 2015 has shown.

For the study, researchers evaluated distress prior to and following lung cancer screening among 175 patients at Stony Brook Cancer Center. Results showed that 43% of participants experienced elevated distress prior to screening and one-third of patients reported increased distress levels after screening, even after being told they do not have cancer.

Researchers found that females, those younger than 60 years, and those having a family history of lung cancer were more likely to experience elevated distress, while females and those with positive personal history of a lung disease were more likely to have high distress after lung screening.

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“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 lead researcher April Plank, NP, Stony Brook Cancer Center.

“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,” Plank said.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) currently recommends that current smokers age 55 to 80 years with a smoking history of 30+ pack-years and, if a former smoker, having quit within the last 15 years, undergo LDCT lung cancer screening.


  1. Patients undergoing lung cancer screening experience elevated levels of distress [news release]. Montreal, QC: American College of Chest Physicians; October 19, 2015. Accessed October 20, 2015.