In November 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a draft memo of a landmark decision to cover low-dose CT lung cancer screening – allowing at-risk patients with private and public insurance to access the potentially lifesaving exam. The final decision memo, with changes to its criteria, was issued in February 2015. According to The Advisory Group, the ability to detect lung cancer in its infancy represents a paradigm shift in the fight against the top-ranked cancer killer.
CMS has expanded the age criteria for screening, and changed the wording of what constitutes an asymptomatic patient to include patients with COPD, asthma and smoker’s cough who might have been excluded previously.
Michaela Straznicka, MD, co-medical director of the John Muir Health’s Thoracic Program, said that the decision has the potential to change the face of lung cancer. “ Quite simply, we will be able to make lung cancer a less deadly disease,” she said.