Volumetric computed tomography screening for lung cancer: three rounds of the NELSON trial

N. Horeweg, C.M. van der Aalst, R. Vliegenthart, Y. Zhao, X. Xie, E.T. Scholten, W. Mali, E. Thunnissen, C. Weenink, H.J.M. Groen, J.-W.J. Lammers, K. Nackaerts, J. van Rosmalen, M. Oudkerk and H.J. de Koning

European Respiratory Journal 2013;42(6):1659-1667



Several medical associations recommended lung cancer screening by low-dose computed tomography scanning for high-risk groups. Counselling of the candidates on the potential harms and benefits and their lung cancer risk is a prerequisite for screening. In the NELSON trial, screenings are considered positive for (part) solid lung nodules with a volume >500 mm(3) and for (part) solid or nonsolid nodules with a volume-doubling time <400 days. For this study, the performance of the NELSON strategy in three screening rounds was evaluated and risk calculations were made for a follow-up period of 5.5 years. 458 (6 of the 7582 participants screened had a positive screen result and 200 (2.6 were diagnosed with lung cancer. The positive screenings had a predictive value of 40.6% and only 1.2% of all scan results were false-positive. In a period of 5.5 years, the risk of screen-detected lung cancer strongly depends on the result of the first scan: 1.0% after a negative baseline result, 5.7% after an indeterminate baseline and 48.3% after a positive baseline. The screening strategy yielded few positive and false-positive scans with a reasonable positive predictive value. The 5.5-year lung cancer risk calculations aid clinicians in counselling candidates for lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography.