NLST data clearly demonstrate that lung cancer screening is effective and safe and reduces lung cancer-specific mortality by at least 20%. There is no possible reason for CMS to further delay or restrict lung cancer screening for those at high risk.
The development of CT lung cancer screening, the publication of results from the NLST in 2011, and the grade-B recommendation for CT lung cancer screening in high-risk smokers by the USPSTF raise a number of interesting national health policy issues.
The NLST is a landmark trial demonstrating that implementation of low-dose CT screening lowers lung cancer–related mortality. We must put the study results and cost-effectiveness analyses in the context of the staggering statistics: up to 65% of lung cancer patients present with advanced-stage disease where treatments are often costly, toxic, and only palliative in nature.