Published on February 25, 2022

Expanded Access to Lung Cancer Screening

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death, but expanded access to low-dose CT (LDCT) screenings means more people can be saved with early detection.

Medicare and Medicaid policies have been updated to expand eligibility for LDCT screening.

MaineGeneral Medical Center has adopted the new Medicare policy. The test is now a covered benefit for those who meet the following criteria:

  • Age 50 – 77 years;
  • Asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms of lung cancer);
  • Tobacco smoking history of at least 20 pack-years (one pack-year = smoking one pack per day for one year; 1 pack = 20 cigarettes);
  • Current smoker or one who has quit smoking within the last 15 years; and
  • Have an order for lung cancer screening with LDCT.

“Early detection of lung cancer is important because there are more treatment options available when it is identified at an early stage,” said Arun Ranganath, MD, medical director of MaineGeneral Pulmonary.

“The expanded criteria lowers the starting age for screening and reduces tobacco smoking history,” added Alfred Proto, MD, MaineGeneral thoracic surgeon. “We’ll be able to screen more at-risk people now and save more lives.”

LDCT – low-dose computed tomography – is a scan technique that combines special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple, cross-sectional images of the inside of the body.

People who meet the criteria for the scan can receive the screening at no-cost or copay to the patient, just as other screenings such as mammography and endoscopy, and can  access the screening once per year.

If you are concerned about your lung cancer risk, talk to your primary care doctor.