In February, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released their National Coverage Determination (NCD) for Low-Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening. As reported by the CDC, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States. The new guidelines expand eligibility by lowering the minimum age for LDCT lung cancer screening from 55 to 50 years. They also reduce the tobacco smoking history required from at least 30 packs per year to 20 packs per year.
By lowering the age criteria for screening, CMS will address key health disparities in lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. Cathy Hogan, an Adult Nurse Practitioner and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist working in the Duke Lung Cancer Screening Clinic, explains the racial disparities commonly found in lung cancer:
“Specifically, we see higher incidence of lung cancer among African Americans, particularly in men, despite lower levels of cigarette consumption as compared to European-Americans. Additionally, African Americans are often diagnosed with lung cancer at younger ages as compared to their European-American counterparts.
The implementation of these new guidelines works to address these disparities by enabling access to LDCT lung cancer screening from a broader pool of at-risk patients. Thanks to these new guidelines, tens of thousands of patients will now have access to this life-saving screening, offering hope for a future decline in lung cancer deaths
One of the most important things we can do as tobacco treatment specialists is to educate our patients on these new guidelines and encourage them to get screened—it could safe their life!
Visit our website to learn more about the Duke-UNC Tobacco Treatment Specialist Training Program. Participants in our nationally accredited virtual training earn 28.75 continuing medical education (CME) hours and are prepared to earn their National Certificate in Tobacco Treatment Practice.
About the Author
Brittany Devine is a Nationally Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist with the UNC Tobacco Treatment Program. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health from Northern Illinois University. She believes in incorporating a holistic approach to treating tobacco dependence that focuses on both internal and external factors of addiction.