The American Lung Association issued the following statement on December 31, 2013, in response to the recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to screen individuals at high risk of lung cancer.
“The [USPSTF] made a recommendation that will save lives. The Task Force released its final recommendation, grading annual low-dose CT screening for individuals at high risk for lung cancer with a B grade.
Under the Affordable Care Act, effective prevention measures, graded A or B, are included in the Essential Health Benefit. Patients who meet the screening criteria will have insurance coverage for screening without copayments or other barriers starting January 1, 2015 or the beginning of their next plan year. The USPSTF high-risk populations include current and former smokers, ages 55-80 years, who have significant cumulative tobacco smoke exposure and have smoked within the last 15 years.
The American Lung Association urges all insurers to cover the screening for high-risk patients immediately.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States. The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer patients is only 16%. This new screening test has the potential to dramatically improve lung cancer survival rates by finding the disease at an earlier, more treatable stage. The USPSTF estimates that if everyone who is at high risk is screened, there will be an approximately 14% reduction in lung cancer deaths in the United States.
The American Lung Association applauds the USPSTF for their final recommendations on lung cancer screening. We hope that over time, this screening will have a similar, positive impact by increasing lung cancer early detection, treatment and survival rates as have other USPSTF screening recommendations.”
In April 2012, the American Lung Association released guidelines to assist physicians and their patients in discussions about lung cancer screening. The Lung Association’s guidelines, based on the National Cancer Institute’s National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, mirror that of the USPSTF’s recommendations. The full American Lung Association Report on Lung Cancer Screening and related educational materials at www.lung.org. ■