CMS expands coverage of lung cancer screening with low dose computed tomography

Feb. 11, 2022

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a national coverage determination (NCD) that expands coverage for lung cancer screening with low dose computed tomography (LDCT) to improve health outcomes for people with lung cancer. This screening is aimed at early detection of non-small cell lung cancer. 

This decision expands eligibility for people with Medicare to get lung cancer screening with LCDT by lowering the starting age for screening from 55 to 50 years and reducing the tobacco smoking history from at least 30 packs per year to at least 20 packs per year. The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is LDCT, a unique computed tomography (CT) scan technique that combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple, cross-sectional images of the inside of the body.

The final decision also simplifies requirements for the counseling and shared decision-making visit and, based on public comments received on the proposed NCD and additional review, removes the requirement for the reading radiologist to document participation in continuing medical education, thereby reducing administrative burden on providers. 

CMS also added a requirement back to the NCD criteria for radiology imaging facilities to use a standardized lung nodule identification, classification, and reporting system.

CMS announcement

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