Mazzone PJ, et al. J Am Coll Radiol 2020.
BACKGROUND: The risks from potential exposure to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and resource reallocation that has occurred to combat the pandemic, have altered the balance of benefits and harms that informed current (pre-COVID-19) guideline recommendations for lung cancer screening and lung nodule evaluation. Consensus statements were developed to guide clinicians managing lung cancer screening programs and patients with lung nodules during the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS: An expert panel of 24 members, including pulmonologists (n = 17), thoracic radiologists (n = 5), and thoracic surgeons (n = 2), was formed. The panel was provided with an overview of current evidence, summarized by recent guidelines related to lung cancer screening and lung nodule evaluation. The panel was convened by video teleconference to discuss and then vote on statements related to 12 common clinical scenarios. A predefined threshold of 70% of panel members voting agree or strongly agree was used to determine if there was a consensus for each statement. Items that may influence decisions were listed as notes to be considered for each scenario.
RESULTS: Twelve statements related to baseline and annual lung cancer screening (n = 2), surveillance of a previously detected lung nodule (n = 5), evaluation of intermediate and high-risk lung nodules (n = 4), and management of clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer (n = 1) were developed and modified. All 12 statements were confirmed as consensus statements according to the voting results. The consensus statements provide guidance about situations in which it was believed to be appropriate to delay screening, defer surveillance imaging of lung nodules, and minimize nonurgent interventions during the evaluation of lung nodules and stage I non-small cell lung cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: There was consensus that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is appropriate to defer enrollment in lung cancer screening and modify the evaluation of lung nodules due to the added risks from potential exposure and the need for resource reallocation. There are multiple local, regional, and patient-related factors that should be considered when applying these statements to individual patient care.