The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) has recently commended a new study published in CANCER, the journal of the American Cancer Society, that concludes that low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) imaging of high-risk individuals has the potential to prevent 12,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States.
“This new study adds to mounting evidence that the use of LDCT in high-risk individuals has the potential to prevent thousands of lung cancer deaths each year,” Gail Rodriguez, executive director of MITA, said in a statement. “MITA urges the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to re-evaluate their recommendation for LDCT scans for those at risk of lung cancer and for private insurers to provide coverage as well.”
The findings of the study in CANCER are based on data from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), which concluded that LDCT imaging reduced lung cancer deaths by 20 percent among current and former smokers aged 55 to 74 years who had smoked a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years. Additionally, a study conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May 2012 indicated that LDCT scans benefit individuals at increased risk for lung cancer, resulting in significantly fewer lung cancer deaths.
Last month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) endorsed LDCT as a means to detect lung cancer and reduce mortality in high-risk individuals, basing its recommendations on the results of several studies that have proven that LDCT saves lives, including the NLST. In addition to ACS, the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons have also publicly supported the use of LDCT in high-risk populations. Last summer, the Department of Veterans Affairs began a phased implementation of LDCT in high-risk veterans. Private insurers are also recognizing the value of LDCT, with WellPoint including the scans as a covered benefit beginning late in 2011.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, with a devastatingly low five-year survival rate. Because symptoms of the disease do not typically manifest until aggressive advancement, many patients do not receive a diagnosis until it is too late.