MD Anderson rolls out lung CT screening
Following Wednesday’s release of comprehensive data from the National Lung Screening Trial, which demonstrated a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality resulting from CT screening, MD Anderson Cancer Center publicized its aims to begin implementing lung screening for heavy smokers—without reimbursement from payors.

Part of the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston becomes one of the first major providers to adopt CT screening for lung cancer, after having contributed 780 patients to the National Cancer Institute’s National Lung Screening Trial (NLST).

This week, investigators from half-a-dozen NLST participating sites published an updated and more extensive analysis of the NLST’s November findings in the New England Journal of Medicine. The trial revealed that low-dose lung CT dramatically lowered lung cancer mortality compared with standard x-rays, with the results dramatic enough to spur the National Cancer Institute to cut short its multi-institution study.

The authors of the analysis indicated that forthcoming cost-effectiveness studies would be critical to implementing the NLST findings on a broad scale. Notwithstanding, MD Anderson followed up by announcing its intention to screen patients over 50 who had a history of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for at least 20 years.

As more in-depth cost-benefit studies continue, the cancer center said it would charge $400 per screening, a price it said was “worth it,” both for deriving clinical benefit and in view of the high costs associated with treating the disease in advanced stages, which often does not stave off death.

A major concern of the study was CT’s 96 percent false-positive rate, which would result in substantial costs and additional testing if implemented according to the NLST’s trial criteria. Still, Reginald Munden, MD, a professor of diagnostic radiology and lead investigator at MD Anderson, argued, “There are more costs associated with treating lung cancer.

“This is a major finding for lung cancer patients and health care policy in the U.S.,” Munden continued. The hospital emphasized that by providing complementary services for patients, including risk assessment and tobacco cessation counseling, it would further improve early detection of the disease.

To read a more in-depth story on the results of the National Lung Screening Trial, click here.