The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently revealed that Medicare will cover the expenses for screening lung cancer.
On Thursday, Feb. 5, the ultimate national coverage was issued by CMS, which determines Medicare coverage for screening lung cancer with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT). The Medicare coverage for the screening is effective with immediate effect.
Patrick Conway, which is the chief medical officer at CMS revealed that for the first time Medicare will cover screening for lung cancer.
"We believe this final decision strikes an appropriate balance between providing access to this important preventive service and ensuring, to the best extent possible, that Medicare beneficiaries receive maximum benefit from a lung cancer screening program," says Conway.
The news is very encouraging to the lung cancer community as this type of cancer is supposed to be the third most common cancer in the U.S. Lung cancer is also a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that lung cancer cases has reduced in the last few years as the number of cigarette smokers has reduced. However, in 2011, about 14 percent of all cancer diagnoses and 27 percent of all cancer-related deaths were due to lung cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015 about 221,200 new lung cancer cases will be reported in the U.S., which will include 115,610 men and 105,590 women. American Cancer Society also estimates that lung cancer will result in the deaths of about 158,040 people in the U.S. in 2015.
Older people are more likely to get lung cancer. Around two of three people, who are diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 years or older. Less than 2 percent of lung cancer cases occur in people under the age of 45 years.
The latest decision will apply to all Medicare beneficiaries aged between 55 and 77 years. People who are current smokers or those who have quit in the last 15 years will be eligible for the screening.
People who have history of smoking tobacco for a minimum of 30 "pack years," which is an average of a single pack per day for a period of 30 years are also eligible for the screening. Patients who get a written letter from a doctor or a non-physician practitioner who is qualified and meets the necessary requirements are also covered.
Experts believe that the latest announcement will help save lives of thousands of lung cancer patients in the U.S.