Medicare Will Cover CT Lung Cancer Screening

“Current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 77 can undergo annual low-dose CT screening for lung cancer paid by Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday.

“The decision finalizes a preliminary plan the agency released in November with one important difference: a higher upper limit to the age range, which had previously been set at 74.

“As in the draft plan, individuals must still have a 30 pack-year history of smoking to qualify and must either be smoking currently or have quit in the past 15 years.

“Also, beneficiaries must obtain a written order from a physician for the first screening, stipulating that the patient underwent counseling on lung cancer screening and that it involved a shared decision-making process. Subsequent annual screenings will also require similar written orders.

“The counseling sessions must emphasize the importance of continued abstinence for ex-smokers and cessation for current smokers.”

Challenge and Opportunity of Targeted Lung Cancer Chemoprevention

“Impacting lung cancer mortality remains among the most formidable of challenges in basic, translational, and clinical cancer investigation. While early detection has been the focus of research efforts resulting in recent notable achievements, lung cancer chemoprevention has lagged behind. Both smoking prevention and cessation are key elements of an overall strategy for lung cancer prevention, but they do not address the problem of the increasing population of former smokers who remain at elevated risk. To address this problem, attention has focused on chemoprevention. Despite extensive efforts, agents evaluated in the majority of the lung cancer chemoprevention phase III clinical trials have been found to be ineffective or even harmful. As a result, current guidelines do not recommend agents for lung cancer chemoprevention.”