INTRODUCTION: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death globally. Incidental pulmonary nodules represent a golden opportunity for early diagnosis, which is critical for improving survival rates. This study explores the impact of missed pulmonary nodules on the progression of lung cancer.

METHODS: A total of 4,066 stage IV lung cancer cases from 2019 to 2021 in Danish hospitals were investigated to determine whether a chest computed tomography (CT) had been performed within 2 years before diagnosis. CT reports and images were reviewed to identify nodules that had been missed by radiologists or were not appropriately monitored, despite being mentioned by the radiologist, and to assess whether these nodules had progressed to stage IV lung cancer.

RESULTS: Among stage IV lung cancer patients, 13.6% had undergone a chest CT scan before their diagnosis; of these, 44.4% had nodules mentioned. Radiologists missed a nodule in 7.6% of cases. In total, 45.3% of nodules were not appropriately monitored. An estimated 2.5% of stage IV cases could have been detected earlier with proper surveillance.

CONCLUSION: This study underlines the significance of monitoring pulmonary nodules and proposes strategies for enhancing detection and surveillance. These strategies include centralized monitoring and the implementation of automated registries to prevent gaps in follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)53-59
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 S. Karger AG, Basel.


  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms/diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Pulmonary Nodules/diagnostic imaging
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule/diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed/methods


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