Dear Administrator Tavenner,
As you know, when cancer is caught early patients have the best chance of survival. Lung cancer is often diagnosed in late stages, and only around 15 percent of patients survive more than five years after developing this disease. Fortunately, low-dose CT scans have been found to be an effective tool in catching lung cancer early. It is our hope that fully utilizing this screening tool as appropriate based on patient risk factors will help reduce the more than 156,000 deaths due to lung cancer in the United States each year.
We are writing to urge that the Medicare National Coverage Determination (NCD) for low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans for Medicare beneficiaries with a high risk of developing lung cancer be completed expeditiously. With the median age of lung cancer diagnosis being age 70, it is essential that seniors on Medicare have access to this screening tool.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has already evaluated low-dose CT scans for high-risk patients and provides a positive recommendation for this screening tool. This means that patients with private insurance are gaining access but Medicare beneficiaries are still waiting. We urge you to expedite the NDC review and provide us with updates as this process moves forward.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.