A qualitative study from the UK

This study used focus groups (with screening-eligible individuals) to explore the knowledge and perceptions around lung cancer and lung cancer screening. The groups were divided into current smokers, former smokers and lower versus higher educational backgrounds. A number of interviews also took place with healthcare professionals.

Results showed that fatalistic views about lung cancer as an incurable disease dominated, particularly among current smokers, and participants were often unaware of curative treatment options. However, beliefs that screening is sensible and worthwhile were expressed.

The potential harms of lung cancer screening were poorly understood (over diagnosis and radiation exposure) but participants were unlikely to be deterred by them. Strong concerns about false-negative results were expressed.

The study authors conclude that the need for lung cancer screening information materials to highlight information on the benefits of early detection and options for curative treatment. They recommend that simple information materials be made available to all individuals considering participation in lung cancer screening.

Read the full article in BMJ Open Respiratory Research (1 December 2019)