American College of Chest Physicians and American Thoracic Society

View all recommendations from this society

Released October 27, 2013

Don’t perform computed tomography (CT) surveillance for evaluation of indeterminate pulmonary nodules at more frequent intervals or for a longer period of time than recommended by established guidelines.

Clinical practice guidelines for pulmonary nodule evaluation (such as those issued by the Fleischner Society or the American College of Chest Physicians) suggest that intensity of surveillance should be guided by the likelihood of malignancy. In patients with no prior history of cancer, solid nodules that have not grown over a 2-year period have an extremely low risk of malignancy (although longer follow-up is suggested for ground-glass nodules). Similarly, intensive surveillance (e.g., repeating CT scans every 3 months for 2 years or more) has not been shown to improve outcomes such as lung cancer mortality. Meanwhile, extended or intensive surveillance exposes patients to increased radiation and prolonged uncertainty.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

This document was prepared as a joint initiative of the American College of Chest Physicians and the American Thoracic Society. A taskforce with members from both societies was selected, including individuals from diverse backgrounds and clinical areas of expertise. Taskforce members initially proposed 30 items for consideration. The taskforce debated the impact of each based on five criteria (Evidence, Prevalence, Cost, Relevance, Innovation), and agreed to narrow the list to 10 items to explore in greater depth. Following an in-depth evidence review and consultation with external content experts for each item, the taskforce together reviewed and debated the compiled information for all 10 items. Subsequently, taskforce members independently scored each item on a scale of 1–5, rating each item on its overall impact as well as on each of the five criteria. The 5 items with the best mean overall scores were retained in the “penultimate” list. The taskforce then reviewed and edited the wording of items on the penultimate list, and submitted it to both societies’ executive committees. The executive committees sought feedback from additional experts in the field, debated the items, and provided written comments to the taskforce. The taskforce deliberated and incorporated these suggestions where appropriate to create the final list, resolving any conflicts through discussion. Both Societies elected to endorse the final list.

Members of the Task Force were: Renda Soylemez Wiener, MD, MPH (Co-Chair), Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD (Co-Chair), Daniel R. Ouellette, MD, FCCP (Co-Chair), Edward Diamond, MD, MBA, FCCP, Vincent S. Fan, MD, MPH, Janet R. Maurer, MD, FCCP, Richard A. Mularski, MD, MSHS, MCR, FCCP and Jay I. Peters, MD, FCCP.

Sources

MacMahon H, Austin JH, Gamsu G, Herold CJ, Jett JR, Naidich DP, Patz EF Jr, Swensen SJ; Fleischner Society. Guidelines for management of small pulmonary nodules detected on CT scans: a statement from the Fleischner Society. Radiology. 2005;237(2):395–400.

Gould MK, Donington J, Lynch WR, Mazzone, Midthun DE, Naidich DP, Wiener RS. Evaluation of patients with pulmonary nodules: When is it lung cancer?: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (3rd edition). Chest. 2013 May;143(5):e93.

Smith-Bindman R, Lipson J, Marcus R, Kim KP, Mahesh M, Gould R, Berrington de González A, Miglioretti DL. Radiation dose associated with common computed tomography examinations and the associated lifetime attributable risk of cancer. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(22):2078–86.

Wiener RS, Gould MK, Woloshin S, Schwartz LM, Clark JA. What do you mean, a spot?: a qualitative analysis of patients’ reactions to discussions with their doctors about pulmonary nodules. Chest. 2012 Jul 17. doi: 10.1378/chest.12–1095. [Epub ahead of print].