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Racial disparities in eligibility for low-dose computed tomography lung cancer screening among older adults with a history of smoking

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Lung cancer early detection screening has been demonstrated to decrease lung cancer mortality among high-risk smokers. This study aimed to examine whether current screening guidelines may disproportionately exclude African American smokers who are at higher overall risk for lung cancer.


Data from the 2014 Health and Retirement Study were analyzed. Older African Americans and Whites with a history of smoking were included in the analyses (n = 7,348). Eligibility criteria established by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for LDCT lung cancer screening were used. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine racial differences in eligibility for LDCT lung cancer screening.


Overall, 21.1% of current and 10.5% of former smokers met USPSTF’s eligibility criteria for LDCT screening. In multivariate logistic regression analyses, African American smokers were less likely to be eligible for LDCT lung cancer screening compared to Whites (odds ratio = 0.5; p < 0.001).


African American smokers were less likely to meet established lung cancer screening eligibility criteria compared to Whites. Current lung cancer screening criteria may not adequately capture African Americans at risk and may widen the health disparities in African Americans. Further longitudinal studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of current lung cancer screening guideline.

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The Health and Retirement Study analyzed in the study is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA U01AG009740) and is conducted by the University of Michigan.

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Correspondence to Chien-Ching Li.

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Li, CC., Matthews, A.K., Rywant, M.M. et al. Racial disparities in eligibility for low-dose computed tomography lung cancer screening among older adults with a history of smoking. Cancer Causes Control 30, 235–240 (2019).

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  • Lung cancer screening
  • Racial disparities
  • Low-dose computed tomography
  • African American
  • Smoking