(Courtesy RSNA)

CT lung cancer screenings are cost effective, analysis finds

July 02, 2013
by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer
When the smoke clears, CT may be left standing as the most life-saving and cost effective lung cancer screening method, according to a new analysis of the 2010 National Lung Screening Trial.

Previously published NLST results showed that low-dose CT lung cancer screening significantly reduces lung cancer deaths for high-risk patients, who are those ages 55 to 74 who have logged in 30 pack-years of smoking.

The new analysis looked at quality-adjusted life years scores for LDCT, chest x-ray, and no scan at all. It found CT lung cancer screening to have an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $72,916, below the acceptable range of $100,000 for QALY, according to a press release from MITA applauding the research.

"With this new cost effectiveness study, we're hopeful that other payors will cover the service," said MITA to DOTmed News.

While some private insurers such as Blue Cross and Anthem cover the procedure for lung cancer screening, CMS does not.

The American College of Radiology, which also applauded the results, said in a release that it will work to develop a practice guideline and ACR Appropriateness Criteria to ensure that the scans are used effectively and efficiently.

"Lung cancer screening guidelines and standards must take into consideration the potential for false positives, incidental findings and other consequences that might negatively impact patients," said Dr. Ella Kazerooni, chair of the ACR Thoracic Imaging Panel, in a press release.

Further details on the cost-effectiveness results are forthcoming.