2014 Press Releases

HomeAboutNewsroomPress ReleasesPress Releases from the ATS2014 Press Releases ▶ Leading Respiratory Health Societies Welcome Preliminary Decision on Lung Cancer Screening for Eligible Medicare Recipients
Leading Respiratory Health Societies Welcome Preliminary Decision on Lung Cancer Screening for Eligible Medicare Recipients

November 10, 2014 – The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) welcome today’s preliminary decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover lung cancer screening with low dose computed tomography (LDCT) for eligible patients.

“LDCT has been shown to reduce mortality when used to screen individuals who are at high risk for developing lung cancer because of their age and smoking history,” said Charles Powell, MD, chief of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and chair of the American Thoracic Society's thoracic oncology assembly. “While there is some risk of overdiagnosis, it is outweighed by the mortality benefit that has been demonstrated with screening targeted groups of high-risk patients. Thoughtful implementation of lung cancer screening with strict attention to monitoring of screening program adherence to standards for centers of excellence and with routine utilization of smoking cessation and multidisciplinary management will help to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of screening.”

A number of medical societies, including ATS and CHEST, recommend lung cancer screening in high-risk patients. TheU.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommends annual screening for lung cancer starting at age 55 and ending after age 80 in individuals with a 30 pack-year smoking history and who currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years, which they calculate would result in approximately 50% of lung cancer cases being detected at an early stage and a 14% reduction in lung cancer mortality.

A recent policy statement, Components for High Quality Lung Cancer Screening: American College of Chest Physicians and American Thoracic Society Policy Statement published in the Online First section of the journal CHEST by CHEST and ATS, was presented to the CMS Committee on Coverage and outlines nine components required for a safe and effective lung cancer screening program. Components include identification of the population to screen, screening frequency and duration, technical specifications of the CT scan, nodule identification, structured reporting, nodule management algorithms, smoking cessation, patient and provider education, and data collection.  The policy statement can be viewed free of charge in the Online First section of the journal CHEST.

"CMS and the MEDCAC group were concerned that the results from the National Lung Screening Trial took place in centers of excellence and academic teaching hospitals, and the balance of harms and benefits will be different in community practice. We recently released a policy statement articulates what was special about these institutions and provides a roadmap for bringing best practices to patients at risk,” said Gerard Silvestri, MD, FCCP, president-designate of CHEST. “We’re very eager to see the benefits of this important technology brought in a thoughtful way to people at risk throughout the United States. We feel this statement positively impacted the decision made today to cover screening in eligible patients.”

The Affordable Care Act will require private insurers to cover the USPSTF-recommended lung cancer screening without cost-sharing beginning in 2015. The ATS and the CHEST applaud toady’s move by CMS to expand access to this life-saving screening to at-risk Medicare beneficiaries. 

About the American Thoracic Society
Founded in 1905, the American Thoracic Society is the world's leading medical association dedicated to advancing pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine.  The Society’s 15,000 members prevent and fight respiratory disease around the globe through research, education, patient care and advocacy.

About the American College of Chest Physicians
American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), publisher of the journal CHEST, is the global leader in advancing best patient outcomes through innovative chest medicine education, clinical research, and team-based care. Its mission is to champion the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chest diseases through education, communication, and research. It serves as an essential connection to clinical knowledge and resources for its 18,700 members from around the world who provide patient care in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. For more information, visit chestnet.org.