Thursday, February 5, 2015

Low-dose CT screening for lung cancer to be covered by Medicare

Licensed use - copyright Sebastian Kaulitzki
CANCER DIGEST – Feb. 5, 2015 – Lung cancer screening using low-dose CT scans will be covered by Medicare, which is good news for many older Americans who are at high risk for lung cancer. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its final coverage determination today. Medicare will now cover lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans once per year for Medicare beneficiaries who meet all the following criteria:

  • Age 55-77, and are either current smokers or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • Have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years)
  • Receive a written order from a physician or qualified non-physician practitioner that meets certain requirements.
To be covered the screening program at the hospital or imaging center used by the Medicare patient also must meet certain requirements regarding procedures and imaging data collection consistent with the National Lung Screening Trial protocol, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation, and multi-society multi-disciplinary stakeholder evidence-based guidelines.

“This is the first time that Medicare has covered lung cancer screening. This is an important new Medicare preventive benefit since lung cancer is the third most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer and deputy administrator for innovation and quality for CMS.

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