Open Access Open Badges Research article

CT-Screening for lung cancer does not increase the use of anxiolytic or antidepressant medication

Linda Kaerlev12*, Maria Iachina12, Jesper Holst Pedersen3, Anders Green12 and Bente Mertz Nørgård12

Author Affiliations

1 Research Unit of Clinical Epidemiology, Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

2 Centre for National Clinical Databases South, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

3 Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery RT, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:188  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-188

Published: 23 May 2012



CT screening for lung cancer has recently been shown to reduce lung cancer mortality, but screening may have adverse mental health effects. We calculated risk ratios for prescription of anti-depressive (AD) or anxiolytic (AX) medication redeemed at Danish pharmacies for participants in The Danish Lung Cancer Screening Trial (DLCST).


The DLCST was a randomized clinical trial which comprised 4,104 former or present smokers who were randomized from 12 May 2004 to 20 June 2006 to either CT scan of the chest, lung-function test and filling in questionnaires annually for five years in the period 1 April 2006–31 March 2010 (n = 2,052), or to a control group (n = 2,052) receiving similar procedures except CT scan. We used CT scan intervention group versus control group status as exposure. The follow-up period for use of AD or AX was three years. Baseline data on civil status, socioeconomic status, and co-morbidity as well as outcome data on AD and AX were obtained by linkage to national registries.


The intervention and the control groups did not differ by age, gender, civil status, socio-economic position, co-morbidity index or former use of AD or AX. The adjusted risk ratio for at least one recipe of AD or AX in the CT intervention group during follow-up was not increased when adjusting for previous use of AD or AX, HR 1.00, 95 % CI (0.90-1.12). Similar results were seen when excluding subjects using AD or AX in a four-month or two-year period before baseline, when analyzing AD and AX separately, or requiring at least two recipes.


We found no indications that participation in a lung cancer CT-screening program increases the risk of specific adverse mental health outcomes.

Trial registration

Clinical Protocol Registration System (NCT00496977).

Lung cancer; Screening; Randomised trial; Psychosocial distress