Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality for both men and women in the US. Lung cancers are typically found at advanced stages, when treatment options are limited and as a result, mortality rates are high. Early detection is key with lung cancer, and recent studies have found a significant survival benefit to patients who have low dose CT scans to identify lung cancer at its earliest stages.
New Medicare guidelines will provide coverage to high-risk seniors for low dose CT screening studies, beginning in 2015. Many private insurers will also be covering the screening test for individuals who are at high-risk.
Northeast Radiology has been providing this screening test for years at its Brewster and Mount Kisco, NY locations, but has seen a recent increase in the number of patients coming for the test. “Physicians in the community have seen the medical studies, and are sending their patients for low-dose lung cancer screenings. Because insurance companies were not covering the procedure, we kept the prices low to make the study available to more people” says radiologist Howard Lee, MD, president of Northeast Radiology.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended CT lung cancer screening of adults aged 55-80 who have a 30-pack year smoking history ( 1 pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years), and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) narrowed coverage to those adults aged 55-74 and will require providers to submit clinical and follow-up data to an approved registry.
“Lung cancer screening is similar to mammography screening, in that it will detect more cancers earlier, when they are most treatable” says Dr. Lee.
Northeast Radiology accepts most major insurance plans, but not all plans will be covering the test. “In an effort to help the greatest number of people in the community, those who meet the USPSTF screening criteria and have a doctor’s order, but whose insurance does not cover lung cancer screening can have this life saving screening test performed at Northeast Radiology at no cost” added Dr. Lee.
Patients should discuss their risks with their physicians, and should remember that cancer screening is not a substitute for smoking cessation. Patients, or their physicians, wanting to schedule this exam can call Northeast Radiology at 888-778-6200. For locations, hours, and other information visit www.nerad.com.