The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against screening for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in asymptomatic adults, according to a new statement. The report has been published in JAMA

In an update to the 2008 USPSTF recommendation on screening for COPD in asymptomatic adults, the Task Force reviewed evidence on whether this screening improved health outcomes. They reviewed diagnostic accuracy of screening tools including pre-screening questionnaires and spirometry. In addition, the USPSTF reviewed whether COPD screening improved the delivery and uptake of targeted preventive services (eg, smoking cessation, immunizations), and the possible harms of screening for and treatment of mild to moderate COPD. 

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The USPSTF did not find evidence to support that COPD screening in asymptomatic people improved health-related quality of life, morbidity, or mortality. Early detection of COPD prior to onset of symptoms does not “alter the course of the disease or improve patient outcomes.” The USPSTF did not find enough evidence on the harms of screening though due to the lack of benefit of early detection and treatment, the opportunity cost for screening asymptomatic patients may be great. 

The USPSTF categorized the statement as a D recommendation, which implies moderate or high certainty that screening has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.

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