Ella Kazerooni, MD, MS, FACR, Chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Lung-RADS Committee and Lung Cancer Screening Registry, contributed this piece.

In March of this year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated their lung cancer screening guidelines to widen screening eligibility for individuals are who are 50 to 80 years of age and have a 20 pack-years or more smoking history, who either currently smoke or have quit in the last 15 years. This update is projected to double the number of individuals eligible for screening and helps to reach Blacks and women who have a higher risk of lung cancer at a younger age and with a lower smoking history, helping to reduce disparities in eligibility for screening. Thanks to updated screening guidelines, advancements in staging, surgical techniques and biomarker-based targeted therapy, the face of lung cancer is changing from one of doom to one of hope.

Although the language in the Affordable Care Act requires payors to cover all preventive services for which they have a grade A or B recommendation, they have up to 12 months from the date that their private payor contracts renew, which means this can take into 2023 for all private payors to make the change.

The ACR has written to the top five national private insurers urging them to make this change in their plans now. Aetna and Cigna have already begun to make this change. In addition, Medicare has also reopened their National Coverage Decision for lung cancer screening, and we hope they will follow with the changes made by the USPSTF. So, how can you join in and take action?

  • Urge your local insurance companies to update their coverage policies now using this template letter. Questions about private insurer coverage of LCS should be directed to Katie Keysor, ACR Senior Director of Economic Policy.
  • Ensure that all of your lung cancer screening facilities are listed within the new ACR Lung Cancer Screening Locator Tool to make it easier for patients and families to quickly find a place to get screened by entering their zip code.
  • If you are new to reading lung cancer screening CTs or need a refresher, check out the free ACR Lung Cancer Screening Education e-learning co-sponsored by the Society of Thoracic Radiology, which comes with 15 AMA Category 1 CME credits and SA-CME too. Powered by state-of-the-art tools and technology, it prepares you to implement a comprehensive, multidisciplinary lung cancer screening program that applies a patient-centered approach to shared decision making, complies with best practices and helps meet requirements for ACR CT Chest Accreditation.
  • Attend the next installment of the ACR-National Lung Cancer Roundtable Lung Cancer Screening Webinar Series on Wednesday, Aug. 5 from Noon to 1pm ET. Michael Gieske, MD, will discuss the role of the primary care provider and nurse navigator in lung cancer screening.

Together, we can bring hope to the future of lung cancer screening.

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