Objective: To achieve the lung cancer screening (LCS) mortality benefit in clinical trials, timely, real-world follow-up of abnormal test results is necessary. Presently, annual LCS rates are lower than in trials, and adherence to follow-up after suspicious findings has not been well studied. This study examined timely adherence to follow-up recommendations after positive low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screenings. Methods: This retrospective study included individuals from two academic primary care practices in New York City who met United States Preventative Services Task Force LCS eligibility and had a positive LDCT scan between 2013 and 2020. They were recommended for shorter interval follow-up repeat computed tomography (CT), CT biopsy, or positron emission tomography/CT. Adherence was completion of the prescribed imaging by 15 days after the recommended 7-, 30-, and 90-day follow-up and by 30 days after the 180-day recommended follow-up. Results: Among 106 individuals with a positive LDCT scan, 64 (60%) were adherent to follow-up recommendations. Adherence was 72%, 63%, and 42% for recommended follow-ups of 30, 90, and 180 days, respectively. Being male was a predictor of a lower adherence rate. Among 23 individuals newly diagnosed with lung cancer after a positive LDCT scan, 83% were adherent to follow-up testing and 82% of cancers were Stage 1A or limited stage. Conclusions: There was variable adherence to the LCS follow-up recommendations despite positive screening CT, suggesting that even in a well-established screening program there may not be an efficient, systematic approach for follow-up. The delays in repeat testing potentially undermine the benefits of early detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-155
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medical Screening
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Low-dose computed tomography
  • adherence to follow-up
  • high-risk screening
  • lung cancer screening


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