Reston, Va. (July 29, 2013) — The American College of Radiology (ACR) supports the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendation (Grade B) for computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screening of high-risk patients (those 55 through 79 years old and have a 30 pack year or greater history of smoking). Previous evidence, including published National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) results, shows that CT lung cancer screening significantly reduces lung cancer deaths, and is appropriate, with careful patient selection and follow-up. However, evidence-based infrastructure must be put in place nationwide to ensure that patients have access to uniform, quality care and a similar life-saving benefit from these exams as demonstrated in the NLST.
"Today's USPSTF draft recommendation marks a dramatic shift in views towards diagnosing and treating lung cancer. Expanded use of CT lung cancer screening in high risk patients is a landmark step in the battle to defeat this terrible disease. The ACR is pleased that the USPSTF recognizes the benefits of these lifesaving exams. The College looks forward to completing the CT Lung Cancer Screening Appropriateness Criteria development and practice guideline and standards process to help ensure, safe, effective diagnostic care for those at high-risk for lung cancer," said Paul Ellenbogen, M.D., FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors.
"The ACR is committed to providing radiologists, the medical community and our patients the information necessary to provide high quality care. We are extremely supportive of the USPSTF's recommendation and are working to complete practice guidelines and appropriateness criteria that cover how lung cancer screening CT exams are performed, interpreted and results communicated, to ensure that those who should be screened can do so regardless of where they live. These standards will provide guidance for establishing a robust screening program that provides the life-saving results that everyone wants. We expect to complete this process in the near future," said Ella A. Kazerooni, M.D., chair of the ACR Thoracic Imaging Panel.
The Affordable Care Act requires that Medicare and private insurers provide coverage of all Medical exams or procedures that receive a grade of "B" or higher from the USPSTF. The College will provide the USPSTF with additional comments during the 30-day comment period regarding this ruling. The USPSTF will finalize their recommendation on lung cancer screening sometime after the comment period closes.
"The ACR congratulates the lung cancer advocacy groups, particularly the Lung Cancer Alliance, for their success in bringing the need for, and scientific efficacy of CT lung cancer screening to the forefront. Gaining the USPSTF's endorsement for CT lung cancer screening is an exciting development. It validates the tremendous research conducted by the American College of Radiology's Imaging Network (ACRIN) through the NLST. The College is hopeful that many lives will be saved and improved because of the efforts of these organizations," said Dr. Ellenbogen.
The ACR looks forward to working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Cancer Institute, Congress and other key stakeholders in taking the necessary steps to create a sustainable and effective CT lung cancer screening process. The College will work to provide as much guidance as possible to providers and patients as we work to finalize official practice guidelines and standards. The ACR encourages patients to speak with their doctors regarding the usefulness of CT scanning to screen for lung cancer in their particular cases.