Performance of Risk Factor-Based Guidelines and Model-Based Chest CT Lung Cancer Screening in World Trade Center-Exposed Fire Department Rescue/Recovery Workers

Krystal L. Cleven, Brandon Vaeth, Rachel Zeig-Owens, Hilary L. Colbeth, Nadia Jaber, Theresa Schwartz, Michael D. Weiden, Steven B. Markowitz, Gerard A. Silvestri, David J. Prezant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer incidence and death in the United States. Risk factor-based guidelines and risk model-based strategies are used to identify patients who could benefit from low-dose chest CT (LDCT) screening. Few studies compare guidelines or models within the same cohort. We evaluate lung cancer screening performance of two risk factor-based guidelines (US Preventive Services Task Force 2014 recommendations [USPSTF-2014] and National Comprehensive Cancer Network Group 2 [NCCN-2]) and two risk model-based strategies, Prostate Lung Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening (PLCOm2012) and the Bach model) in the same occupational cohort. Research Question: Which risk factor-based guideline or model-based strategy is most accurate in detecting lung cancers in a highly exposed occupational cohort? Study Design and Methods: Fire Department of City of New York (FDNY) rescue/recovery workers exposed to the September 11, 2001 attacks underwent LDCT lung cancer screening based on smoking history and age. The USPSTF-2014, NCCN-2, PLCOm2012 model, and Bach model were retrospectively applied to determine how many lung cancers were diagnosed using each approach. Results: Among the study population (N = 3,953), 930 underwent a baseline scan that met at least one risk factor or model-based LDCT screening strategy; 73% received annual follow-up scans. Among the 3,953, 63 lung cancers were diagnosed, of which 50 were detected by at least one LDCT screening strategy. The NCCN-2 guideline was the most sensitive (79.4%; 50/63). When compared with NCCN-2, stricter age and smoking criteria reduced sensitivity of the other guidelines/models (USPSTF-2014 [44%], PLCOm2012 [51%], and Bach[46%]). The 13 missed lung cancers were mainly attributable to smoking less and quitting longer than guideline/model eligibility criteria. False-positive rates were similar across all four guidelines/models. Interpretation: In this cohort, our findings support expanding eligibility for LDCT lung cancer screening by lowering smoking history from ≥30 to ≥20 pack-years and age from 55 years to 50 years old. Additional studies are needed to determine its generalizability to other occupational/environmental exposed cohorts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2060-2071
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • World Trade Center
  • low-dose chest CT
  • lung cancer screening
  • occupational lung disease
  • smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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