SIDEBAR: ‘Major Milestone in War on Cancer’ 

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Federal reimbursement is an essential component to the fair and equitable access to this new service.

The recommendation by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) for the use of low-dose, computed tomography (CT) to detect early lung cancer in high-risk individuals is a major milestone in the war on cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death across the world. Despite intensive efforts over the past decades, no measure has been found to significantly reduce lung cancer mortality in individuals with heavy smoking exposure. From the pilot observations of the Early Lung Cancer Action Project, to the work of the National Lung Screening Trial, to the many groups that have refined the screening process, this has been an extensive international collaboration to responsibly advance this screening process. 

Now, with the new recommendation from the USPSTF, we move into an equally challenging phase. How do we safely, economically, and effectively implement this new screening service across the nation? Further, lung cancer is a disease that is largely caused by tobacco exposure and it is clear that there are major disparities in the use of those products in our society. How do we implement a lung cancer screening system with effective tobacco cessation provisions so that those in our society with the greatest risk have access to these life-saving screening and cessation services? Federal reimbursement is an essential component to the fair and equitable access to this new service, and the USPSTF deserves great credit for its thoughtful recommendation. ■

Disclosure: Dr. Mulshine reported no potential conflicts of interest.

Dr. Mulshine is Professor, Internal Medicine, and Vice President of Research at Rush Medical College, Rush University, Chicago.

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