News | November 18, 2014

ASTRO Commends Medicare’s Decision to Cover Annual, Low-Dose CT Screenings

Screenings will benefit patients who have the highest risk of developing lung cancer

Lung cancer, ASTRO, CT Screen, National Lung Screening Trial

Image Courtesy of GE

November 18, 2014 — The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is supporting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) decision to provide coverage for annual lung cancer screening via a low-dose CT screening for those at the highest-risk for lung cancer.  

The Proposed Decision Memo for Screening for Lung Cancer with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) (CAG-00439N) confirms that there is sufficient evidence to warrant annual lung cancer screening for patients most at risk for developing lung cancer.

The patient criteria for eligibility is as follows: aged 55 to 74; asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms of lung disease); a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (one pack-year = smoking one pack per day for one year; 1 pack = 20 cigarettes); or a current smoker or someone who has quit smoking within the last 15 years.

Bruce G. Haffty, M.D., ASTRO chair, FASTRO remarks that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States, with more than 160,000 people each year dying from the disease. This surpasses the number of deaths from breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. “With this annual screening in place, we will be able to diagnose patients earlier when treatment can be most successful, which will save thousands of lives,” Haffty says.

CMS’s decision follows the United States Preventive Task Force’s December 2013 recommendation that LDCT is a Grade B screening.

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