New Decision Aids Support Shared Decision Making for Lung Cancer Screening

According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2016 report, over 12,000 people will die from lung cancer in California this year.  

One way to lower this number is by increasing the number of lung cancer screenings.  For some adults, annual lung cancer screening could lead to an early diagnosis and life-saving treatment.  The decision can be difficult, however, as lung cancer screening carries potential harms as well as benefits. 

Wanting to help navigate these complexities, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ), developed a new suite of tools to assist clinicians and patients make informed decisions about lung cancer screening. 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s mission is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used. 

AHRQ’s tools are aimed at a specific audience – adults aged 55 to 80 years who have smoked the equivalent of one pack a day for at least 30 years and who continue to smoke or who have quit less than 15 years ago.  These decision aids are based in part upon U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, which were developed through a systematic review and consideration of current evidence for lung cancer screening. 

The new tools help simplify conversations and decision making among patients and primary care clinicians about low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), the only endorsed screening strategy for lung cancer.  Patients can use these tools effectively to learn the facts about lung cancer, compare the benefits and harms of screening with LDCT, evaluate how their own values relate to screening, and learn about insurance coverage.  

For more information on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, please click here