Lung Cancer Screening Should Be Covered for Medicare Beneficiaries, New Study Suggests

Lung Cancer Screening Should Be Covered for Medicare Beneficiaries, New Study Suggests

lung cancer screening and medicareA National Lung Screening Trial showed that patients aged 55 to 74 years who were put through lung screening with a low-dose computed tomography were at lower risk of lung cancer mortality than those who go under chest radiography. This is one of the conclusions of a new study that analyzed evidence of the benefits and harms of lung cancer screening, aiming to determine whether lung cancer screening should be covered for Medicare beneficiaries.

The group of researchers for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services examined the results of the national trial to bring new arguments to fight concerns about Medicare coverage of low-dose computed tomography screening, recently expressed in an advisory panel.

The study, entitled “National Lung Screening Trial Findings by Age: Medicare-Eligible Versus Under-65 Population” and published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, analyzed over 23,700 participants aged 55 to 74 years, among 33 U.S. screening centers, and researchers performed 3 rounds of low-dose computed tomography screening each year to these patients.

Results showed that participants aged 65 years and older were more likely to have false-positive screening results than those younger than 65 years. In addition, these participants were at higher risk of cancer prevalence, whereas five-year all-cause survival was lower among the older participants. On the other hand, complications from invasive procedures were low in both groups.

These findings led researchers to conclude that Medicare beneficiaries should not be excluded from screening, while clinicians should share with their patients the age-specific estimates of screening benefits and harms to help make an informed decision.

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