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MP 6.01.30 Screening for Lung Cancer Using CT Scanning

 

Medical Policy    
Section
Radiology
 
Original Policy Date
05/31/01
Last Review Status/Date
Reviewed with literature search/1:2012
Issue
1:2012
  Return to Medical Policy Index

Disclaimer

Our medical policies are designed for informational purposes only and are not an authorization, or an explanation of benefits, or a contract.  Receipt of benefits is subject to satisfaction of all terms and conditions of the coverage.  Medical technology is constantly changing, and we reserve the right to review and update our policies periodically. 


Description

There is interest in screening and early identification of lung cancer because the disease, when identified clinically, tends to have a poor prognosis. Two proposed screening methods are chest radiographs and low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans. Either of these can be used with or without computer-assisted detection (CAD). Due to biases inherent in screening studies, randomized trials evaluating reduction in lung cancer morbidity and mortality are required to demonstrate the efficacy of screening.

Given the poor prognosis of lung cancer, there has been longstanding research interest in developing screening techniques for those at high risk. Previous studies of serial sputum samples or chest x-rays failed to demonstrate that screening improved health outcomes. More recently, there has been interest in low-dose computed tomography (CT) scanning as a screening technique, using either spiral (also referred to as helical) or electron beam (also referred to as ultrafast) CT scanning. Compared to conventional CT scanning, these CT scans allow for the continuous acquisition of images, thus shortening the scan time and radiation exposure. A complete CT scan can be obtained within 20 seconds, or during one breath hold, in the majority of patients. The radiation exposure for this examination is greater than for that of a chest x-ray, but much less than for a conventional CT scan.

There are also growing applications of computer-assisted detection or diagnosis (CAD) technologies that may have an impact on the use of CT scanning or chest radiographs for lung cancer screening. Computer-assisted detection points out possible findings to the radiologist who then decides if the finding is abnormal. Computer-assisted diagnosis uses a computer algorithm to analyze features of a lesion to determine the level of suspicion and is intended to enhance the reader’s diagnostic performance. Both of these technologies may be expected to offer more benefit when used by relatively inexperienced readers and may help to standardize diagnostic performance.

In March 2001, the FDA approved the RapidScreen RS-2000 system as a computer aided detection (CAD) system intended to identify and mark regions of interest on digitized chest radiographs. In February 2004, the FDA approved the R2 Technology ImageChecker CT system as a technique to assist in the detection of lung nodules on multi-detector CT scans of the chest. The R2 Technology ImageChecker also received FDA clearance for the Temporal Comparison software module in June 2004 and for the CT-LN 1000 in July 2004. The Temporal Comparison software module provides the ability to automatically track lung nodule progression or regression over time. The ImageChecker CT-LN 1000 is used forthe detection of solid nodules in the lungs. Other systems that have been developed include iCAD’s Second Look CT lung and Siemens’ syngo LungCARE CT.


Policy

Low-dose computed tomography (CT) scanning, no more frequently than annually for 3 consecutive years, may be considered medically necessary as a screening technique for lung cancer in individuals who meet ALL of the following criteria*:

  • Between 55 and 74 years of age
  • History of cigarette smoking of at least 30 pack-years
  • If former smoker, quit within the previous 15 years

* patient selection criteria are based on the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST)

Low-dose CT scanning is considered investigational as a screening technique for lung cancer in all other situations.

 


Policy Guidelines

 

This policy does not apply to individuals with signs and/or symptoms of lung disease. In symptomatic individuals, a diagnostic work-up appropriate to the clinical presentation should be undertaken, rather than screening..

Computed Tomography (CT) Scanning

Although there is no specific CPT code for spiral or electron beam CT scanning, CPT code 71250 (computerized axial tomography, thorax) may be used. Thus the distinction between medically necessary CT scans of the thorax and spiral or electron beam CT scans as a screening test cannot be based on CPT code alone. ICD-9 code V76.0 is defined as special screening for malignant neoplasms of the respiratory organs. Thus, when used in conjunction with CPT code 71250, these codes may identify spiral or electron beam CT scanning as a screening test for lung cancer.

The optimal frequency of CT screening is not known. However, the recommendation to screen selected individuals is based on the NLST, which screened individuals annually for 3 consecutive years.

Chest Radiographs

Evidence from randomized controlled trials does not support the use of chest radiography as a screening technique for lung cancer. Chest radiography and sputum cytology are not considered to be valid methods for lung cancer screening at the present time.

Effective in January 2007, there are 2 category III codes to specifically denote when CAD is performed at the time of the reading of the chest radiograph or at some other time:

0174T: Computer-aided detection (CAD) (computer algorithm analysis of digital image data for lesion detection) with further physician review for interpretation and report, with or without digitization of film radiographic images, chest radiograph(s), performed concurrent with primary interpretation (list separately in addition to code for primary procedure) (Use 0174T in conjunction with 71010, 71020, 71021, 71022, 71030).

0175T: Computer-aided detection (CAD) (computer algorithm analysis of digital image data for lesion detection) with further physician review for interpretation and report, with or without digitization of film radiographic images, chest radiograph(s), performed remote from primary interpretation (Do not report 0175T in conjunction with 71010, 71020, 71021, 71022, 71030).


Benefit Application
BlueCard/National Account Issues

 

Specific contractual exclusions for screening tests may also affect coverage eligibility for CT scanning as a screening test for lung cancer.


Rationale

High-quality, randomized trials examining the effect of screening on lung cancer morbidity and mortality are necessary to determine the true impact of this technology on health outcomes. While survival from time of screening is commonly reported in screening trials, the apparent increase in survival may be confounded by one or more biases associated with screening:

Lead-time bias: Lead time refers to the length of time between when a cancer is detected by screening and when the first signs or symptoms would have appeared. If screening identifies lung cancer earlier, survival could be longer due to the lead time rather than because of effective early treatment.
Length-time bias: This refers to the greater likelihood that screening will detect slow-growing indolent cancers (which take longer to become symptomatic) than faster-growing, more aggressive cancer. Patients with screen-detected cancer may appear to live longer because the cancers are more indolent.
Overdiagnosis: This occurs when screening identifies non-lethal cancer (sometimes called pseudodisease). When this type of cancer is identified and removed, the patient appears to have benefited from screening although the cancer would not have been fatal if left undetected.

An initial literature search was performed in 2001. The policy was updated regularly with a literature review using MEDLINE; most recently, the literature was searched through August 2009. The following is a summary of the literature on screening for lung cancer with chest x-rays or low-dose CT scanning.

Chest radiographs

Several randomized trials of chest x-ray as a screening technique were published in the 1980s. The studies found that, although patients undergoing screening with chest x-ray had a higher incidence of earlier stage lung cancers, more resectable lung cancer, and improved 5-year survival rate compared with the control group, there were no statistically significant differences in mortality attributable to lung cancer between the 2 groups. (1)

Findings from an additional randomized controlled trial (RCT) that evaluated the effectiveness of screening with chest x-rays, the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) cancer screening trial, have recently been published. Enrollment for the study was completed in 2001. (2) Approximately 155,000 individuals were randomly assigned to receive selected screening interventions, including chest radiographs, or usual care. Smokers received chest x-rays at baseline and annually for 3 years; never-smokers were screened at entry and annually for 2 years. Baseline results were reported in 2005. Of the 77,465 patients randomly assigned to the intervention arm, 5,991 (8.9%) radiographs were suspicious for lung cancer. Of these, 206 patients underwent biopsy, and 126 cancers were diagnosed. Among these cancers, 44% were stage I. Rates of lung cancer for the initial screening ranged from 0.63% for current smokers to 0.04% in non-smokers. Results of subsequent screenings were published in 2010. (3) Positivity rates were 7.1%, 6.6%, and 7.0%, respectively, for the first, second, and third yearly follow-up chest radiographs. Over the entire screening period, 18.5% of screened individuals had at least one positive screen. In 2011, the investigators published the main outcome data related to lung cancer screening. (4) The rate of lung cancer mortality did not differ significantly in the 2 groups. Over 13 years of follow-up, there were a total of 1,213 lung cancer deaths in the intervention group and 1,230 lung cancer deaths in the usual care group. Cumulative lung cancer mortality rates (per 10,000 person-years of observation) were 14.0 in the intervention group and 14.2 in the control group (rate ratio [RR]: 0.99, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.87-1.22). There was also no benefit of screening with chest x-rays when the analysis was limited to individuals who met criteria for the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST, discussed in a subsequent section of the policy). In this subset of study participants (n=30,321), there were 316 lung cancer deaths in the intervention group and 334 lung cancer deaths in the usual care group (RR: 0.94, 95% CI: 0.81 to 1.10). The authors concluded that annual screening with chest radiographs did not reduce lung cancer mortality compared with usual care.

Computer-aided detection (CAD) may increase the sensitivity of chest x-rays. Early published literature regarding CAD for chest x-rays consists primarily of technical capabilities of CAD systems. (5-7) More recently, a retrospective study identified x-rays with missed cancerous nodules and evaluated them with a CAD system (OnGuard 3.0, Riverain Medical). CAD correctly marked overlooked nodules in 46 of 89 (52%) patients, and there was a mean of 3.9 false-positive results per image. (8) The study only included radiographs of lung cancer patients; CAD was not evaluated for screening. Another retrospective study, conducted in Europe, evaluated chest radiographs from 46 individuals who had histologically proven lung cancer and 65 control patients who had no nodules larger than 5 mm in diameter identified at a CT screening that occurred within 6 weeks of the x-ray. (9) Each radiograph was evaluated without and then with CAD findings; the OnGuard CAD system was used. CAD was not found to improve observer performance. The average sensitivity of the reviewers (2 radiologists and 4 residents) was similar without (49%) and with (51%) use of the CAD system. Observers correctly identified 27 lesions without CAD, and with CAD assistance, 3 additional malignancies were identified.

Low-Dose Spiral CT

Findings from a large randomized controlled trial (RCT) in the United States that evaluated the impact of screening with low-dose CT on lung cancer morbidity and mortality, the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), were published in 2011. In addition, several smaller European RCTs are ongoing. Following are descriptions of the major randomized trials:

National Lung Screening Trial: The National Lung Screening trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was launched in 2002. (10) By April 2004, a total of 53,454 current or former smokers from 33 sites in the United States had been randomly assigned to screening in 3 consecutive years with either a chest x-ray or low-dose spiral CT. Study eligibility included age between 55 and 74 years, a history of cigarette smoking of at least 30 pack-years and, for former smokers, quitting within the past 15 years. Individuals with a previous diagnosis of lung cancer or who had signs and/or symptoms suggestive of lung cancer were excluded. There was no study-wide diagnostic follow-up algorithm; individuals who had positive test findings were managed according to protocols at their local center. A total of 95% of participants in the low-dose CT group and 93% in the radiography group adhered to the screening protocol.

In October 2010, the independent safety and monitoring board determined that sufficient data were available to conclude that there was a statistically significant reduction in the primary outcome, lung cancer mortality. Consequently, the trial was terminated, and study results that occurred through December 31, 2009 were analyzed and reported. During a median 6.5-year follow-up, a total of 356 of 26,722 (1.33%) participants in the low-dose CT group and 443 of 26,732 (1.66%) participants in the radiography group died of lung cancer, representing a relative risk reduction of 20% (95% CI: 6.8% to 26.7%, p=0.004) (Using intention-to-treat analysis (ITT), the absolute risk reduction was 0.33% and the number needed to screen (NNS) for 3 years with a low-dose CT to prevent one death from lung cancer was 303. The authors reported an NNS of 320 based on per-protocol data from participants who underwent at least one screen. Overall mortality, a secondary outcome, was also significantly reduced in the low-dose CT screening group. There were a total of 1,877 deaths (7.0%) in the low-dose CT group and 2,000 deaths (7.5%) in the radiography group—relative risk reduction 6.7% (95% CI: 1.2% to 13.6%, p=0.02); absolute risk reduction of 0.46% and the NNS of 219 (95% CI: 111 to 5,556).

Over all 3 screenings, the frequency of positive tests was 24.2% in the low-dose CT group and 6.9% in the radiography group. Of these, 17,497 of 18,146 (96.4%) in the low-dose CT group and 4,764 of 5,043 (94.5%) in the radiography group were false positives. The remaining 649 tests (3.6% of total positive tests) in the low-dose CT scan group and 279 (5.5% of total positive tests) in the radiography group were confirmed lung cancers. During the screening phase, a total of 39.1% of participants in the low-dose CT group and 16.0% of those in the radiography group had at least one positive screening test.

During follow-up, 1,060 lung cancers were identified in the low-dose CT group and 941 lung cancers were identified in the radiography group. The difference in the cancer rates between groups was statistically significant, with a rate ratio of 1.13 (95% CI: 6.8 to 26.7, p=0.004). In addition to the screen-detected cancers, 44 cancers in the low-dose CT group and 137 in the radiography group were diagnosed after a negative screen. Three hundred sixty-seven cancers in the low-dose CT group and 525 cancers in the radiography group were diagnosed among participants who either missed screening or who had completed their 3 screenings.

Selected data from Table 3 of the August 2011 publication (10) on rates of follow-up diagnostic procedures after a positive screening result are shown below. Data represent all 3 screening rounds and include only cases for which diagnostic information is complete (over 97% of cases). 

 

Low-dose CT
(N =17,702)
n (% of total sample)

Chest Radiography
(N =4,953)
n (% of total sample)

Imaging exam

10,246 (57.9)

3,8884 (78.4

Chest Radiography

2,547 (14.4)

1,613 (32.6)

Chest CT

8,807 (49.8)

3,003 (60.6

FDG PET/PET-CT

1,471 (8.3)

397 (8.0)

Percutaneous cytologic exam or biopsy

322 (1.8)

172 (3.5)

Bronchoscopy

671 (3.8)

225 (4.5)

Surgical procedure

713 (4.0)

239 (4.8)

Medastinoscopy or medastinotomy

117 (0.7)

55 (1.1)

Thoracoscopy

234 (1.3)

53 (1.1)

Thoracotomy

509 (2.9)

184 (3.7)

 

*Positron emission tomography, (FDG, fluordeoxyglucose)

Selected data from Table 4 of the August 2011 publication on complication rates after the most invasive screening-related diagnostic procedures are shown below. The data are from all 3 screening rounds and include only cases for which diagnostic information is complete (over 97% of cases). The frequencies of each major complication were not reported, rather the article included the total number of patients with any major complication. (Percent of total sample was calculated). 

 

Low-dose CT
n (% of total sample)

Chest Radiography
n (% of total sample)

Lung Cancer confirmed

649 (3.7)

279 (5.2)

At least one complication

184 (1.0)

65 (1.3)

At least one major complication

75 (0.4)

24 (0.5)

Death within 60 days after invasive diagnostic procedure

10 (0.1)

10 (0.2)

Lung cancer not confirmed

17,053 (96.3)

4,674 (94.4)

At least on complication

61 (0.3)

16 (0.3)

At least one major complication

12 (0.1)

4 (0.1)

Death within 60 days after invasive diagnostic procedure*

6 (< 0.1)

0 (0)

*This does not include deaths among individuals who had follow-up diagnostic procedures but no invasive procedures: a total of n=5 in the low-dose CT group and n =4 in the radiography group.

Note: Major complications were defined as the following: acute respiratory failure, anaphylaxis, bronchopulmonary fistula, cardiac arrest, cerebral vascular accident/stroke, congestive heart failure, death, hemothorax requiring tube placement, myocardial infarction, respiratory arrest, wound dehiscence, bronchial stump leak requiring tube thoracostomy or other drainage for more than 4 days, empyema, injury to vital organ or vessel, prolonged mechanical ventilation over 48 hours postoperatively, thromboembolic complications requiring intervention, chylous fistula, brachial plexopathy, lung collapse and infarcted sigmoid colon.

Cancer stage was reported for cancers with a known stage; 1,040 in the low-dose CT group and 929 in the radiography group (Of the 1,040 confirmed lung cancers in the low-dose CT group, 416 (40%) were stage 1A, and 104 (10%) were stage 1B. Over half of the confirmed lung cancers identified by a positive screen (329 of 635, 52%) were stage 1A. In the radiography group, 90 of 275 confirmed cancers identified by a positive screen (32.7%) were stage 1A.

In summary, the National Lung Screening Trial was a large well-conducted trial. It found a statistically significantly lower rate of lung cancer mortality with 3 annual CT screens compared to chest radiographs; the number needed to screen (NNS) to prevent one lung cancer death was 320 (95% CI: 193 to 934). The study also found a statistically significant but modestly lower overall mortality in low-dose CT group. There was a high rate of follow-up imaging tests but relatively low rates of invasive tests. There were few major complications reported after invasive testing, although major complications that did occur were not well-characterized. The rates of other potential complications, in particular radiation-induced cancers, are not yet known. Findings of the trial cannot be generalized to other populations, e.g., younger individuals or lighter smokers. The NLST evaluated the utility of a series of 3 annual CT screens; the efficacy of other screening regimens is not known.

In 2004, Brenner assessed the radiation risks associated with low-dose CT screening. (10) The estimated doses from low-dose CT screening were 5.2 mGy + 0.9 to the lung, based on the protocol used in the National Lung Screening Trial. (This would be equivalent to at least 250 standard chest x-rays.) Brenner concluded that the radiation-related lung cancer risks for a single examination at age 55 ranges from approximately 1 per 10,000 to approximately 5 per 10,000, depending on gender and whether the person is a current or former smoker. The study estimated that there would be a 1.8% increase (95% CI: 0.5% to 5.5%) in the number of lung cancers associated with radiation from screening if 50% of all current and former smokers in the U.S. aged 50–75 years received annual CT screening. The risks of screening could be reduced by scanning less frequently or beginning screening at a later age.

Several smaller European trials that evaluate spiral CT screening are ongoing. Findings may ultimately be pooled with those from other RCTs in Europe and the United States. Each study includes a somewhat different screening population and screening regimen.

Danish Lung Cancer Screening Trial: Between 2004 and 2006, a total of 4,104 current or former smokers were randomized to screening with annual low-dose CT for 5 years or no screening; lung cancer mortality is the primary outcome measure. (11) Among the 2,052 individuals who received baseline CT scans, 179 (8.7%) had positive findings; a large proportion of these findings (162 of 179, 91%) were false positive. Seventeen individuals (0.8%) were found to have lung cancer; 10 cases were stage 1 disease.

Detection and Screening of Early Lung Cancer by Novel Imaging Technology and Molecular Essays (DANTE) Trial: This trial, conducted in Italy, randomly assigned 2,811 male current or former smokers to receive 5 yearly spiral CT-screening exams or physical examination alone. All participants had baseline chest radiographs. (12) The study was initiated in 2001, and recruitment was completed in 2006. Three-year findings were published in 2009. (13) After a median of 33 months’ follow-up, significantly more lung cancer was detected in the CT screening group compared to control (4.7% vs. 2.8%, respectively, p =0.016). More stage-1 disease was detected by CT screening; the rate of advanced lung cancer detection was similar in the 2 groups.

ITALUNG Trial: Another Italian study randomly assigned 3,206 current or former smokers to receive 4 yearly low-dose CT scans or no screening. (14) Participants will be followed up by cancer registry for lung cancer incidence and mortality and contacted by telephone 4 years after randomization. At baseline, 1,406 underwent CT screening, and 426 (30%) tested positive (nodule at or greater than 5 mm). Twenty individuals were found to have lung cancer; 406 of 426 (95%) of positive screens were false-positive.

Netherlands-Leuvens Longkanger Screenings Onderzoek (NELSON) Trial: This study, conducted in the Netherlands and Belgium, randomly assigned current or former smokers to CT screening or no screening. (15,16) The screening intervention consisted of a CT scan at baseline and 1 and 3 years after baseline. Recruitment occurred between 2004 and 2006. Of the 7,557 participants who underwent the first round of screening, 196 (2.6%) had positive scans, and 177 (2.3%) were referred for work-up. Seventy of the 177 were diagnosed with lung cancer; this represents 39.5% of participants worked up after a positive scan and 0.9% of screened individuals. The 70 individuals had 72 lung cancers; 46 (64%) of these were classified as stage 1. The primary outcome of the trial is lung cancer mortality reduction after 10 years.

A total of 1.466 participants in the NELSON trial participated in a related quality-life-study; 733 were randomized to the screening arm and 733 to the control arm. (17) They were given questionnaires before randomization, 2 months after the first screening round, and 2 years after baseline (6 months after the second screening round). The questionnaire response rate was 1,288 (88%) at baseline and 931 (79%) two years later. No statistically significant differences between the screened and control groups were found in scores on any quality-of-life measures at 2 years. The authors interpreted this finding as suggesting that lung cancer screening did not negatively impact quality of life.

In addition to the RCTs described above, a large observational study that has received attention is the Early Lung Cancer Action Project (ELCAP) (18). A 2006 publication reported results from 31,657 patients who underwent a baseline and then annual CT scan for detection of lung cancer. The study included smokers and former smokers; approximately 10% of the population included individuals with occupational or secondhand exposure to smoke. Of the 31,567 participants who had a baseline examination, 4,186 (13%) had a positive result that required further workup. A diagnosis of lung cancer was found in 484 patients (1.53%); 412 of 2,834 (85%) were stage-1 cancer. The majority of lung cancers (405 of 484) were found during the baseline evaluation. A total of 535 patients underwent biopsies during the study. Of the biopsies from patients with clinical stage-I cancer, 14% were squamous cell and 71% were adenocarcinoma. The 10-year survival rates were estimated, although approximately 20% of participants had follow-up completed beyond 5 years. The estimated 10-year survival rate of individuals diagnosed with lung cancer was 88% (95% CI: 84% to 91%). While these results are encouraging for the number of cases identified with stage-I disease, they do not indicate that CT screening improves health outcomes due to lack of a comparison group and potential biases such as lead time, length time, and overdiagnosis. Moreover, there was a high rate of false-positives, approximately 11.5% of the screened population.

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether CAD technology may improve the accuracy of CT scanning interpretation. (20, 21)

Clinical Input Received through Physician Medical Societies and Academic Medical Centers

In response to requests, input was received through 2 Physician Specialty Societies and 3 Academic Medical Centers after this policy was approved in October 2011. While the various Physician Specialty Societies and Academic Medical Centers may collaborate with and make recommendations during this process, through the provision of appropriate reviewers, input received does not represent an endorsement or position statement by the Physician Specialty Societies or Academic Medical Centers, unless otherwise noted. All of the reviewers agreed with the medically necessary policy statement, with the exception that one reviewer did not think the criterion limiting CT scanning to once a year for 3 years should be included. The reviewers were split on the issue of whether screening with CT scanning should be considered investigational for all other asymptomatic individuals who did not meet criteria in the medically necessary statement. No studies were cited in support of screening other individuals with low-dose CT, but several reviewers mentioned the 2011 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guideline (discussed below).

Summary

The evidence on CT screening for lung cancer includes numerous RCTs that report on yield and stage of screening and one RCT that reports on clinical outcomes. The largest RCT, the National Lung Screening Trial was a multicenter trial published in 2011. This was a high-quality trial that reported a decrease in both lung cancer mortality and overall mortality in a high-risk population screened with 3 annual low-dose CT scans compared to chest radiographs. Thus, screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT may be considered medically necessary for high-risk patients who meet the major eligibility criteria of the NLST and investigational otherwise.

Findings from a large RCT evaluating chest radiographs for lung cancer screening, the PLCO, were published in 2011. The study found that 3 annual screens with chest radiographs did not reduce lung cancer mortality compared to usual care.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

In October 2011, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network published a Lung Cancer Screening Guideline. The guideline recommends screening with low-dose CT for individuals who meet the key eligibility criteria of the National Lung Screening Trial, i.e., age 55-74 years old, at least a 30 pack-year history of smoking, and smoking cessation no more than 15 years ago. In addition, the guideline recommends low-dose CT screening for individuals aged 50 years and older with at least a 20 pack-year history of smoking and one additional risk factor for lung cancer (other than second-hand smoke). The latter recommendation is based on non-randomized studies and observational data. Screening is recommended annually for 3 years and until age 74. (22)

A statement by the American Cancer Society (ACS), updated in July 2011, stated that no major professional organization, including the ACS, recommends routine lung cancer screening. However, the statement also acknowledges that as results of the NLST are further analyzed, some organizations may update their recommendations. (23)

The 2007 American College of Chest Physicians’ (ACCP) guidelines on screening for lung cancer does not recommend low-dose CT and specifically recommends against the use of serial chest radiographs for lung cancer screening. (24)

In May 2004, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concluded that there was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against screening asymptomatic persons for lung cancer with low-dose CT, chest x-ray, sputum cytology, or a combination of these tests due to poor evidence that screening would reduce lung cancer mortality rates. (25)

Medicare National Coverage

No national coverage determination. 

References:

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    1. Patz EF, Goodman PC, Bepler G. Screening for lung cancer. N Engl J Med 2000; 343(22):1627-33.
    2. National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Prevention. Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. Available online at: http://prevention.cancer.gov/programs-resources/groups/ed/programs/plco . Last accessed December 2011.
    3. Hocking WG, Oken MM, Winslow SD et al. Lung cancer screening in the randomized prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian (PLCO) cancer screening trial. J Natl Cancer Inst 2010; 102(10):722-31.
    4. Oken MM, Hocking WG, Kvale PA et al. Screening by chest radiograph and lung cancer mortality: The prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian (PLCO) randomized trial. JAMA 2011; 306(17):1865-73.
    5. Freedman M. State of the art screening for lung cancer (part 1): the chest radiograph. Thorac Surg Clin 2004; 14(1):43-52.
    6. Kakeda S, Moriya J, Sato H et al. Improved detection of lung nodules on chest radiographs using a commercial computer-aided diagnosis system. AJR Am J Roentgenol 2004; 182(2):505-10.
    7. Freedman MT, Lo SC, Osicka T et al. Computer aided detection of lung cancer on chest radiographs: effect of machine CAD false-positive locations on radiologists’ behavior. Proc SPIE Intl Soc Opt Eng 2002; 4684:1311-9.
    8. White CS, Flukinger T, Jeudy J et al. Use of a computer-aided detection system to detect missed lung cancer at chest radiography. Radiology 2009; 252(1):273-81.
    9. 9 . de Hoop B, De Boo DW, Gietema HA et al. Computer-aided detection of lung cancer on chest radiographs: Effect on observer performance. Radiology 2010; 257(2):532-40.
    10. National Lung Screening Trial Research Team; Aberle DR, Adams AM, Berg CD et al. Reduced lung-cancer mortality with low-dose computed tomographic screening. N Engl J Med 2011; 365(5):395-409.
    11. Brenner DJ. Radiation risks potentially associated with low-dose CT screening for adult smokers for lung cancer. Radiology 2004; 231(2):440-5.
    12. Pedersen JH, Ashraf H Dirksen A et al. The Danish randomized lung cancer CT screening trial - overall design and results of the prevalence round. J Thoracic Oncol 2009; 4(5):608-14.
    13. Infante M, Lutman FR, Cavuto S et al. Lung cancer screening with spiral CT: baseline results of the randomized DANTE trial. Lung Cancer 2008; 59(3):355-63.
    14. Infante M, Cavuto S, Lutman FR et al. A randomized study of lung cancer screening with spiral computed tomography: three-year results from the DANTE Trial. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2009; 180(5):445-53.
    15. Lopes Pegna A, Picozzi G, Mascalchi M et al. Design, recruitment and baseline results of the ITALUNG trial for lung cancer screening with low-dose CT. Lung Cancer 2009; 64(1):34-40.
    16. van Iersel CA, de Koning HJ, Draisma G et al. Risk-based selection from the general population in a screening trial: selection criteria, recruitment and power for the Dutch-Belgian randomized lung cancer multi-slice CT screening trial (NELSON). Int J Cancer 2007; 120(4):868-74.
    17. van Klaveren RJ, Oudkerk M, Prokop M et al. Management of lung nodules detected by volume CT screening. N Engl J Med 2009; 361(23):2221-9.
    18. van den Bergh KA, Essink-Bot ML, Borsboom GJ et al. Long-term effects of lung cancer computed tomography screening on health-related quality of life: the NELSON study. Eur Respir J 2011; 38(1): 154-61.
    19. The International Early Lung Cancer Action Program Investigators. Survival of patients with stage I lung cancer detected on CT screening. N Engl J Med 2006; 355(17):1763-71.
    20. Wormanns D, Fiebich M, Saidi M et al. Automatic detection of pulmonary nodules at spiral CT: clinical application of a computer-aided diagnosis system. Eur Radiol 2002; 12(5):1052-7.
    21. Goo JM, Lee JW, Lee HJ et al. Automated lung nodule detection at low-dose CT: preliminary experience. Korean J Radiol 2003; 4(4):211-6.
    22. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Lung Cancer Screening. Clinical practice guidelines in oncology, V1.2012. Available online at: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/lung_screening.pdf. Last accessed October 2011.
    23. American Cancer Society. Lung Cancer (non-small cell). Last revised July 6, 2011. Available online at: www.cancer.org . Last accessed August 2011.
    24. Alberts WM; American College of Chest Physicians. Diagnosis and management of lung cancer: executive summary: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (2nd Edition). Chest 2007; 132(3 Suppl): 1S-19S.
    25. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Lung Cancer. May 2004. Available online at: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/3rduspstf/lungcancer/lungcanrs.htm . Last accessed December 2011.
  2.  

Codes

Number

Description

CPT  71250  CT scan of the thorax 
  0174T Computer aided detection (CAD) (computer algorithm analysis of digital image data for lesion detection) with further physician review for interpretation and report, with or without digitization of film radiographic images, chest radiograph(s), performed concurrent with primary interpretation (Use 0174T in conjunction with 71010, 71020, 71021, 71022, 71030) 
  0175T Computer aided detection (CAD) (computer algorithm analysis of digital image data for lesion detection) with further physician review for interpretation and report, with or without digitization of film radiographic images, chest radiograph(s), performed remote from primary interpretation (Do not report 0175T  in conjunction with 71010, 71020, 71021, 71022, 71030) 
ICD-9 Procedure  87.41  Computerized axial tomography of thorax 
   87.44 Routine chest x-ray, so described
  87.49 Other chest x-ray
ICD-9 Diagnosis  V15.82 Other specified personal history presenting hazards to health, history of tobacco use
  V76.0  Special screening for malignant neoplasms; respiratory organs 
HCPCS     
ICD-10-CM (effective 10/1/13)   F17.200-F17.299 Nicotine dependence, code range
  Z12.2 Encounter for screening for malignant neoplasm of respiratory organs  
  Z87.891 Personal history of nicotine dependence
ICD-10-PCS (effective 10/1/13)    ICD-10-PCS codes are only used for inpatient services.  
    BB09YZZ, BB0DZZZ Imaging, respiratory system, plain radiography, tracheobronchial trees, bilateral or upper airways  
    BB24ZZZ   Imaging, respiratory system, computed tomography, lungs bilateral 
Type of Service  Radiology 
Place of Service  Outpatient 


Index

Lung cancer, screening
SpiralCTscanning, lung cancer screening


Policy History

Date Action Reason
05/31/01 Add to the Radiology section New policy
12/18/02 Replace policy Policy updated with literature search for 2001 to October 2002: no changes in policy statement, new references added
11/9/04 Replace policy Literature review update for October 2002 through July 2004; added information on computer-assisted detection, USPSTF recommendations and references; policy statement unchanged
09/27/05 Replace policy Literature review update for the period of July 2004 through July 2005. No new clinical trial publications addressing health outcomes identified; policy statement unchanged
12/14/05 Replace policy Policy retitled and revised to address chest x-rays with or without CAD as technique for screening. New category III CPT code describing CAD for chest x-rays also added. Reference numbers 18-20 added
12/12/06 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review (including ELCAP study) through October 2006; no change in policy statement. Reference numbers 21 – 25 added
03/13/08 Replace policy  Policy updated with literature review in February 2008; no change in policy statements. Reference numbers 26 and 27 added.
10/06/09 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through August 2009; no change in policy statements. Rationale extensively revised; reference numbers 2, 8,10,11 added; other references removed/renumbered.
10/08/10 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through August 2010; no change in policy statements. Reference numbers 3, 13, 14, 16 and 21 added; other references renumbered.
10/04/11 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through August 2011. Low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening changed to medically necessary annually for 3 consecutive years for selected individuals and investigational in all other situations; criteria based on eligibility in National Lung Screening Trial. Reference numbers 8, 9, 17, 21 and 22 added; other references renumbered or removed
1/12/12 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through December 15, 2011. Clinical input added. Reference 4 added; other references renumbered. Policy statement on chest radiographs removed and title changed accordingly. Statement added to Policy Guidelines that evidence does not support use of chest radiographs as a screening technique. A statement was also added to the Policy Guidelines that the policy does not apply to symptomatic individuals.