No cancer is more deadly than lung cancer. But early detection can save lives and head off costly and invasive treatment. With this in mind, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a national coverage determination (NCD) expanding coverage for lung cancer screening using low dose computed tomography (LDCT).
LDCT is a unique computed tomography scanning technique that combines special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple, cross-sectional images of the inside of the body. It’s currently the only screening method recommended for lung cancer. The new final NCD expands coverage by:
- Lowering the starting age of eligibility for screening from 55 to 50 years; and
- Reducing the coverage triggering smoking history threshold from 30 packs to 20 packs per year.
To reduce administrative burdens, the NCD also:
- Simplifies requirements for the counseling and shared decision-making visit;
- Eliminates the requirement for the reading radiologist to document participation in continuing medical education; and
- Requires radiology imaging facilities to use a standardized lung nodule identification, classification, and reporting system.