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Lung Cancer Screening

In the United States, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women. It’s also the leading cause of death from cancer.

Lung cancer can be serious. However, some people with early-stage lung cancer can be successfully treated. This is because tests and treatments for cancer are being studied and improved. If lung cancer is found at an earlier stage when it is small and before it has spread, people have a better chance of living longer.

Current and former smokers are at a higher risk of getting lung cancer as they get older. If they quit, smokers can lower their risk of getting and dying from lung cancer.

Usually, symptoms of lung cancer don’t appear until the disease is already at an advanced, non-curable stage. Even if lung cancer does cause symptoms, many people may mistake them for other problems, such as an infection or long-term effects of smoking. This may delay the diagnosis.

Patients who meet the right criteria are eligible for a Low Dose CT lung cancer screening to facilitate detection at an earlier stage.

Which patients are covered by Medicare for LDCT lung cancer screening?

Patients must meet the following five criteria:

  1. Be age 55-77 years of age
  2. Have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
  3. Have a 30-pack years or greater history of tobacco smoking*
  4. Be current smokers or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
  5. Have a written order for LDCT from a qualified health professional following a lung cancer screening counseling that attests to shared decision-making having taken place before their first screening CT

*A way to measure the amount a person has smoked over a long period of time. It is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person has smoked. For example, 1 pack year is equal to smoking 1 pack per day for 1 year, or 2 packs per day for half a year, and so on.

For the initial LDCT lung cancer screening service, a written order is required from a qualified health professional following a lung cancer screening counseling and with attestation to shared decision-making having taken place.

For the subsequent screening services, a written order is required which may be furnished during any appropriate visit from a qualified health professional.

Talk to your primary care provider today to find out if you qualify. If you do not have a primary care provider you can find one here.

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