BACKGROUND: The management of pulmonary nodules plays a critical role in early detection of lung cancer. Computed tomography (CT) has led to a stage-shift towards early-stage lung cancer, but regional differences in survival rates have been reported in Denmark. This study aimed to evaluate whether variations in nodule management among Danish health regions contributed to these differences.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The Danish Health Data Authority and Danish Lung Cancer Registry provided data on CT usage and lung cancer stage distribution, respectively. Auditing of lung cancer stage IA patient referrals and nodule management of stage IV lung cancer patients was conducted in seven Danish lung cancer investigation centers, covering four of the five Danish health regions. CT scans were performed up to 2 years before the patients' diagnosis from 2019 to 2021.

RESULTS: CT usage has increased steadily in Denmark over the past decade, with a simultaneous increase in the proportion of early-stage lung cancers, particularly stage IA. However, one Danish health region, Region Zealand, exhibited lower rates of early-stage lung cancer and overall survival despite a CT usage roughly similar to that of the other health regions. The audit did not find significant differences in pulmonary nodule management or a higher number of missed nodules by radiologists in this region compared to others.

CONCLUSION: This study suggests that a high CT scan volume alone is not sufficient for the early detection of lung cancer. Factors beyond hospital management practices, such as patient-related delays in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, may contribute to regional differences in survival rates. This has implications for future strategies for reducing these differences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2313311
JournalEuropean Clinical Respiratory Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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