High affective risk perception is associated with more lung cancer-specific distress in CT screening for lung cancer
Screening for cancer can cause distress. People who perceive their risk of cancer as high may be more vulnerable to distress. This study evaluated whether participants of a lung cancer Computed Tomography (CT) screening trial with a high affective risk perception of developing lung cancer had a higher level of lung cancer-specific distress during CT screening. Furthermore, we evaluated whether participants perceived their risk of developing lung cancer differently 6 months after screening compared with 1 day before screening. A total of 351 subsequent participants of the NELSON-trial (Dutch-Belgian randomized controlled trial for lung cancer screening in high-risk subjects), who were randomized to the screen arm, were asked to fill in questionnaires 1 day before and 6 months after screening. Lung cancer-specific distress (Impact of Event Scale (IES)), generic health-related quality of life (SF-12) and affective risk perception were assessed. One day before screening, the participants with a high affective risk perception (n = 47/321, 14.6%) had significantly higher (i.e., worse) median IES scores than participants with a low affective risk perception (11.5 vs. 2.0, p < 0.01). Although median IES scores were significantly lower 6 months after screening than 1 day before screening, participants with a high affective risk perception still showed significantly higher IES scores than participants with a low affective risk perception (6.5 vs. 1.0, p < 0.01). Six months after screening, significantly less participants (10.5%) felt that their risk of developing lung cancer was high than 1 day before screening (14.5%) (p < 0.01). Levels of distress were not severe, but were elevated compared to participants with a low affective risk perception, and therefore, attention for this group is recommended.