Moffitt Cancer Center Applauds Medicare Coverage Decision on Lung Cancer Screening

November 11, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. — If you have ever smoked, a lung cancer screening at Moffitt Cancer Center could save your life. On Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a draft decision memo that would require Medicare to cover low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screening for high-risk beneficiaries between ages 55 and 74. Approximately 4 million Medicare beneficiaries fit the eligibility criteria for screening.

The decision is largely aligned with the recommendations submitted to CMS in September by a coalition led by the Lung Cancer Alliance, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons and included nearly 100 other professional societies, public health organizations, medical centers and patient groups. Moffitt was a signatory to the letter. 

“Patients whose tumors are caught early often have better outcomes. Now we have a screening test that can save lives and will be accessible to those at high risk for developing lung cancer,” said Scott J. Antonia, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Thoracic Oncology Department at Moffitt. “At Moffitt, our comprehensive lung screening program evaluates each CT screening and develops a personalized treatment plan as needed.”

Moffitt is home to a comprehensive lung cancer screening program, which includes a team of oncologists from a variety of specialties. As a result, Moffitt has been named a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance. The designation lists Moffitt as one of 250 centers across the country that have agreed to follow specific protocols and core best practices to ensure the highest quality of screening and follow-up care.

“Working with screening centers of excellence across the country, we knew that screening was being done well and right,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, LCA’s president and CEO. “Now, we will focus our attention on making sure those who would benefit most from this screening actually get screened.” 

The CMS draft decision is the last major piece in a long series of validations reaffirming the lifesaving benefits of lung cancer screening. Lung cancer screening was scientifically proved in 2010 by one of the largest randomized controlled trials in the history of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  The NCI’s National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) confirmed that screening can reduce overall death from lung cancer, which is currently the No. 1 cancer killer in the United States.

Earlier this year, researchers at Moffitt analyzed survival rates of 635 lung cancer patients who underwent CT screens as part of the NLST study for the presence of suspicious lung nodules.  They found patients diagnosed with lung cancer who had at least one negative CT screen (i.e., no suspicious lung nodules were found) before cancer diagnosis had poorer survival compared to patients who had at least one positive screen before their lung cancer diagnosis. The results could make it possible to identify more aggressive lung cancers found during screening and determine the best treatment for patients. Recently, a multispecialty team of researchers and clinicians from Moffitt was awarded a $1.6 million grant from the state of Florida to expand and improve the cancer center’s lung cancer screening program.

The low-dose CT lung cancer screening is available for high-risk populations at Moffitt Cancer Center and Moffitt’s International Plaza location. Screening appointments can be made by calling 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488).

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top ranked cancer hospital in the Southeast and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of their “Best Hospitals” for cancer since 1999. With more than 4,500 employees, Moffitt has an economic impact on the state of nearly $1.6 billion. For more information, visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About Lung Cancer Alliance:
Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), www.lungcanceralliance.org, is committed to saving lives and accelerating research by empowering people living with or at risk for lung cancer. It has been a long time proponent of lung cancer screening for high risk populations.  LCA has earned a prestigious four star rating from Charity Navigator.

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