New data on CT screening cost-effectiveness

June 27, 2013 — The American College of Radiology (ACR) said it is pleased that new evidence from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) suggests lung cancer screening for high-risk patients is cost-effective.

The data, presented on June 24 by the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s national cancer advisory board, found that lung cancer screening in smokers ages 55 to 74 years was even more cost-effective than mammography, producing substantial gains in life expectancy at a moderate cost. The initial NLST results, published in 2011, showed that when used appropriately, CT lung cancer screening could reduce lung cancer mortality by at least 20%.

Inasmuch as guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and reimbursement policies for Medicare haven’t been available for the exam, ACR has been asked by various groups to provide guidance on the use of CT lung cancer screening. ACR will use the new data along with other study results to craft new guidelines for screening by spring 2014.

The remaining time will allow for “careful consideration” of both current and new studies in the medical literature, according to ACR, including the anticipated published data from NLST regarding cost-effectiveness. In the meantime, ACR has published provider and patient guidelines on its website.