The success of a simple questionnaire designed to identify patients at high risk of lung cancer has been confirmed by a study featured in the November issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. Initiated in 2001, the current study confirmed 18 cases of cancer of the original 430 patients who qualified as high risk after completing a five-minute questionnaire.
The study was conducted in primary care physician offices among patients seeking care for general health issues. The evaluating physician incorporated a simple questionnaire focused in three areas: risks, environments and genetics. Specific questions included smoking habit, occupational environments (mining, construction or railroad),subsequent exposure to chemicals and family history.
Colorado's Primary Care Partners surveyed more than 1,000 patients to evaluate their corresponding risk of lung cancer. Almost half of those surveyed qualified as high risk, and 126 of these identified underwent spinometry, a non-invasive breath measurement procedure. Of the patients with airflow obstruction, 88 underwent a full lung cancer screening. After five years, the study confirmed lung cancer in eight patients with obstructed airflow and 10 in of the patients without.
The study opened the door to mitigate late diagnosis through embedding these simple questions into the patient-physician dialogue. "Simple by design, our initiative received widespread community support from physicians, patients and hospitals," said lead investigator Thomas Petty, MD. By providing the guidelines for pointed questions when patients are face-to-face with physicians, we can begin to identify those at risk."