Medicare Approves PET for Additional Cancers

February 1, 2001
Volume 15, Issue 2

Medicare made an important decision in December 2000 to expand its coverage of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron-emission tomography (PET) as a cancer screening tool. The agency said it would pay for FDG-PET for diagnosis, staging, and

Medicare made an important decision inDecember 2000 to expand its coverage of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)positron-emission tomography (PET) as a cancer screening tool. The agency saidit would pay for FDG-PET for diagnosis, staging, and restaging of lung,esophageal, colorectal, lymphoma, melanoma, and head and neck cancers.Previously, Medicare had reimbursed patients for PET for four cancers; however,this only occurred in limited situations. For example, in the case of colorectalcancer, reimbursement occurred only with a recurrence of cancer proven by risingcarcinoembryonic antigen levels. Coverage of FDG-PET will be limited to the useof dedicated full-ring and some partial-ring systems. Physicians are expected toorder PET scans as a way to avoid major invasive diagnostic procedures.