43% of doctors support universal screening for lung cancer

Sermo poll of 2,490 doctors explores perspectives on lung cancer prevention and treatment

Sermo, the leading global social network for doctors, surveyed members about their feelings regarding lung cancer and found that nearly half of physicians think that low dose CT screening for lung cancer should be extended to all patients at a certain age, similar to mammograms for women above age 45 and colonoscopies for men and women above age 50 (poll of 2,490 doctors). Of nearly 475 of the doctors who believed lung cancer screening should be done universally, 42 percent said the screenings should begin at age 50. Additionally, 49 percent of doctors polled said they are seeing an increase in the number of lung cancer cases among nonsmokers (poll of 1,080 doctors).

According to the American Cancer Society, up to 20 percent of people who die from lung cancer in the U.S. every year are nonsmokers and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death.

The current recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force are for annual screening for lung cancer with low dose CT in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

“It remains unanswered whether screening tests for lung cancer in nonsmokers would be effective,” said Dr. Dennis Morgan, Sermo member and oncologist. “However the Sermo poll result does support the need for further study of this previously under-appreciated cancer risk.”

Sermo also asked doctors if they think that it should be mandated that radon levels be tested before a person moves into a new home or apartment and that the results be disclosed to the new resident. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Sixty-six percent of the doctors thought that yes; radon testing and reporting should be required (poll of 1,080 doctors).

In addition to taking the pulse of physicians about the prevention of lung cancer, the Sermo poll examined their practices when it came to patients who are diagnosed with the disease and genetic testing.

Twenty-three percent of doctors polled said they test for gene mutations in people with lung cancer (poll of 1,080 doctors) and 93 percent of those doctors that test for gene mutations said they change their approach to treatment based on the information received from the tests (poll of 244 doctors).

“With society focusing more on personalized medicine, it is surprising to see that such a small percentage of doctors are testing for gene mutations in people with lung cancer,” said Dr. Morgan. “As more resources are made available, I hope we will see genetic testing in lung cancer patients become more widespread so patients are able to receive treatments proven to work best for people like them.”

Some doctors on Sermo believe that current guidelines should remain intact and low dose CT screenings for lung cancer should not be universal.

One family medicine physician said, “Until the evidence gives me a screening test that is useful for lung cancer detection in nonsmokers, I will continue to follow the recommendations… Doing routine screenings will drive up healthcare costs plus it will find plenty of ‘incidentilomas’ leading to unnecessary care.”

A pulmonologist says we “need to be careful who and how often you screen.” He adds that he thinks “it’ll cause as many problems as it will solve.”

An infographic with the full results of the survey can be found at:

About Sermo

Sermo is the leading social network for physicians – the virtual doctors’ lounge and the home of medical crowdsourcing – where doctors anonymously share their true feelings about their profession and lives and talk ‘real world’ medicine. Sermo has nearly 470,000 fully verified and licensed members and is now available for doctors in nine countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US. Founded in the US in 2005, Sermo’s mission is to revolutionize real world medicine and to unite physicians, providing them with a safe, private and trusted platform for free and open discussions. Sermo harnesses the collective wisdom of doctors, enabling medical crowdsourcing, knowledge sharing and thus the advancement of medicine.

Sermo is also the world’s largest healthcare professional polling and survey company with 1.6 million healthcare professional members in both the social network and a digital research network, spanning 80 countries. Sermo conducts 700,000 surveys a year.

Learn more at www.Sermo.com

Media Contacts:
Randi Kahn, Public Relations Manager, Sermo
randi.kahn@sermo.com; +1.212.358.0800 x967

Cassidy Lawson, Racepoint Global
clawson@racepointglobal.com; +1.202.517.1378

Osnat Benshoshan, Chief Marketing Officer, Sermo