The Year in Lung Cancer: CT Screening, More Targeted Therapy

Kate M. O'Rourke


December 09, 2014

In This Article


What were the big news stories in lung cancers in 2014? Medscape asked this question of Mark Kris, MD, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and Howard (Jack) West, MD, from the Swedish Cancer Institute, Seattle, Washington. The two lung cancer experts had a lot to say.

Lung Cancer Screening

According to Dr Kris, the biggest development in 2014 was the recent draft decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover low-dose CT testing for asymptomatic individuals between the ages of 55 and 74 and who have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 pack-years. The coverage decision applies to current smokers as well as smokers who have quit within the past 15 years. The CMS draft decision set the stage for screening coverage by insurance plans after January 1, 2015, under the Affordable Care Act and coverage by Medicare and Medicaid shortly thereafter.

"There are an estimated 8 million Americans that fit into that age group and smoking category," said Dr Kris. "As many as 20,000 lives could be saved by having this low-dose screening test done. This is a huge opportunity. Everybody needs to get on board to offer screening to everybody who can benefit from it. This is a huge chance to save lives from lung cancer."

In 2011, a study by the National Lung Screening Trial[1] demonstrated that people who fit into the above category who underwent low-dose CT scans had a 20% lesser chance of dying from cancers of the lung than those who received chest x-rays alone.


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