In a win for advocates of accessible preventative care, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is expanding the Part B reimbursement eligibility for lung cancer screening using low dose computed tomography (LDCT). LDCT, also known as a low dose CT scan, is the only recommended test for lung cancer.
In a reconsideration of the 2015 guidelines, CMS:
- Decreased the eligible age for smokers to begin annual screenings to 50 from 55; and
- Lowered the tobacco smoking pack-year smoking history to 20 from 30. (One pack-year equates to one pack per day for one year.)
Additionally, the decision reduces some of the administrative barriers to screening.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US, and early detection is a key factor in better outcomes. However, healthcare experts stress that all decisions regarding individual risk factors and benefits of medical tests should be between a patient and their physician.
Want more details? Read the full text of the decision here.