On Thursday, February 5, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued their final decision requiring Medicare to cover low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screenings for at-risk beneficiaries meeting certain criteria. The Prevent Cancer Foundation applauds this decision, which will allow health care professionals to detect lung cancer earlier and save lives.
Beneficiaries are eligible for screening based on the following criteria:
- Age 55-77
- Have no lung cancer symptoms
- Have a history of smoking one pack per day for at least 30 years
- Currently smoke or quit within the last 15 years
- Receive a written order for a screening by a physician
Lung cancer is the third most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2013, the National Cancer Institute estimated that the number of new cases each year is over 220,000, and the number of lung and bronchial cancer deaths each year is over 150,000 (more than the total number of deaths from colon, breast and prostate cancer combined).
The median age at diagnosis is 70, and the median age of lung cancer death is 72, making this an important issue for the Medicare population.
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