Research Shows Value of Additional PET/CTscans in Follow-up of Lung Cancer Patients

The gist: New research shows that four or more PET/CT scans can help guide care for patients who have been treated for lung cancer. This is significant in the light of a recent announcement from Medicaid and Medicare Services that only three FDG PET/CT scans would be routinely covered after treatment.

“New research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine reveals a high value of scans which could lead to future change of reimbursement policies for follow-up positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) studies in lung cancer. The study, featured in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, establishes the value of fourth and subsequent follow-up PET/CT scans in clinical assessment and management change in patients with the disease.

“According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States. Approximately 402,326 Americans living today have been diagnosed with lung cancer. In 2014, diagnoses of an estimated 224,210 new cases of lung cancer were expected, representing about 13 percent of all cancer diagnoses.

“In the retrospective study, a total of 1,171 patients with biopsy-proven lung cancer who had positron emission tomography with a radioactive tracer (18F-FDG were identified at a single tertiary center from 2001 to 2013. Among these, 85 patients (7.3%) had four or more follow up PET/CT scans with a total of 285 fourth and subsequent follow up PET/CT scans. Median follow up from the fourth scan was 31.4 months. The follow-up PET/CT scan results were correlated with clinical assessment and treatment changes.”