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Biostatistician Christina Pinkston co-authors article on lung screening rates

Christina Pinkston, M.S., Biostatistician III, Statistical Consulting Center, Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, School of Public Health & Information Sciences, co-authored a paper presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in early June. The research team from the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and the UofL School of Medicine included Drs. Danh Pham, Shruti Bhandari, Malgorzata Oechsli, and Goetz Kloecker.

The study analyzed 1,800 lung cancer screening sites nationwide and found that only 1.9% of more than 7 million current and former heavy smokers were screened for lung cancer in 2016, despite United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and ASCO screening recommendations.

Pinkston said, “As the lead statistician, I worked on merging the American College of Radiology provided state-level screening data with the National Health Interview Survey estimated population in four Census regions of those eligible for lung cancer screening based on recommendations from the USPSTF. We found variation in screening rates by Census region and hope to drill down to state-level rates in the future. In particular, we are interested in comparing lung cancer screening rates in Kentucky to other states.”

“Lung cancer screening rates are much lower than screening rates for breast and colorectal cancers, which is unfortunate,” said lead study author Danh Pham, MD, a medical oncologist at the UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center. “It is unclear if the screening deficit is due to low provider referral or perhaps patient psychological barriers from fear of diagnosis. Lung cancer is unique in that there may be stigma associated with screening, as some smokers think that if cancer is detected, it would confirm they’ve made a bad lifestyle choice.”

This study, the first assessment of lung cancer screening rates since those recommendations were issued in 2013, was one of seven abstracts presented to the press prior to the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting. Bruce Johnson, MD, ASCO President, explained findings from this UofL study make a strong case that the U.S. needs an effective public service campaign to encourage current and former heavy smokers to get screened for lung cancer.

Read the abstract.

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