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Lung Cancer Screening Coverage Expanded Through Medicare

A doctor showing a mature patient his x-ray results on a laptop

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a national coverage determination (NCD) that expands coverage for lung cancer screening. Lung cancer is among the common cancers and the leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the U.S. The screening increases the chance of early detection of non-small cell lung cancer and can improve health outcomes.

Who is Eligible for Lung Cancer Screening Coverage?

Eligibility will extend to people with Medicare to get a lung cancer screening. The starting age will be lowered from 55 to 50 years, and the tobacco smoking history will be reduced from at least 30 packs per year to at least 20.

The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is LCDT (Lung Cancer Detector Test). It combines special X-ray equipment with high-tech computers to produce numerous cross-sectional images of the inside of the body.

Why is the Expanded Coverage Important for Patients?

The goal of lung cancer screening is to detect lung cancer at a very early stage — when it's more treatable and more likely to be cured. By the time lung cancer symptoms develop, the cancer is usually too advanced for effective treatment.

Studies show lung cancer screening reduces the risk of dying of lung cancer. This data is especially notable given that lung cancer is impacting more and more younger patients. These patients are under 35 with varied smoking histories.

There’s rule that only older patients with a smoking history can develop cancer — though it does increase your risk. Expanded guidelines make screenings accessible to anyone who needs one, and ensures they’re available across populations.

From an insurance standpoint, expanded coverage makes screenings more affordable for patients and simplifies requirements.

The process will be much easier and more efficient for both patients and providers so that the focus can be on early detection and getting the patient well.

Potential Lung Cancer Symptoms

While the goal is to catch lung cancer before you experience symptoms, if you do notice symptoms, be sure to see your health care provider without delay. They are:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored spit or phlegm
  • Chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Hoarseness
  • Infections that don’t go away or keep coming back
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Wheezing

Delivering the Comprehensive Lung Care You Deserve

If you have a lung cancer diagnosis, new symptoms, or simply questions and concerns, our team of renowned oncologists is here for you. Whether you need a screening or advanced treatment, we’re with you at every step. After treatment, we provide the counseling, nutritional guidance, mentoring and support you need to live life to the fullest.

Visit us here for the whole-health support you deserve.

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