Lung Cancer Screening of Medicare-Eligible Patients Associated with Greater Benefits, Risks

“Screen-detected lung cancer prevalence, as well false-positive results, were higher among Medicare-eligible participants compared with younger participants, according to results of a secondary analysis of the National Lung Screening Trial.

“Initial results of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) demonstrated a 20% reduction in the risk for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT compared with chest radiography in high-risk adults aged 55 to 74 years. The findings served, in part, as the basis for the US Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendation — issued in December 2013 — that high-risk individuals aged 55 to 80 undergo annual lung cancer screening with low-dose CT.

“However, experts have debated whether the annual screens should be covered for Medicare beneficiaries, who comprised approximately 25% of the trial’s population (age 55 to 64 years, n=19,612; age 65 to 74 years, n=7,110). In April, the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee expressed low to intermediate confidence that the benefits of annual screening outweighed the potential risks in the Medicare population.”