CMS Expands Lung Cancer Screening Coverage with Low-Dose CT Scanning

February 10, 2022 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) just announced a National Coverage Determination (NCD) that expands coverage of lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) to improve outcomes health of people with lung cancer. Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers and the leading cause of cancer-related death in men and women in the United States. This screening is aimed at the early detection of non-small cell lung cancer.

This final ruling expands the eligibility of people with Medicare for lung cancer screening with LCDT by lowering the screening start age from 55 to 50 and reducing smoking history from at least 30 packs per year to at least 20 packages per year. The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is LDCT, a unique computed tomography (CT) technique that combines special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple cross-sectional images of the inside of the body.

“Expanding coverage expands access to lung cancer screening for at-risk populations,” said CMS Chief Medical Officer and Center for Clinical Standards and Quality Director Lee Fleisher, MD. “The decision to today not only expands access to quality care, but is also critical to improving health outcomes for people by helping to detect lung cancer earlier.

The final decision also simplifies the requirements for the counseling and shared decision-making visit and, based on the public comments received on the proposed NCD and additional review, removes the requirement for the reading radiologist to document their participation in continuing medical education, thereby reducing the administrative burden on providers. CMS also added a requirement to the NCD criteria for radiology imaging facilities to use a standardized system for identifying, classifying and reporting lung nodules.

To read the final decision, visit the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/view/ncacal-decision-memo.aspx?proposed=N&ncaid=304

Related content on cancer screening:

Radiation Oncologists Applaud Biden-Harris Administration’s Renewed Commitment to Moonshot Cancer

Racial/ethnic disparities persist in eligibility for lung cancer screening

Primary lung cancers detected by LDCT have lower risk of brain metastases

Physician and patient groups call on CMS to update Medicare lung cancer screening coverage

USPSTF expands eligibility thresholds for lung cancer screening

Low-dose CT for lung cancer screening: benefits outweigh potential harms

Physician and patient groups call on CMS to update Medicare lung cancer screening coverage

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