By Brian Casey, staff writer

June 25, 2013 — The economics of CT lung cancer screening measure up to other population-based screening programs such as mammography in terms of cost-effectiveness, according to an analysis of data from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) that was presented on Monday at a U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) meeting.

This follow-up analysis of NLST data found that a low-dose CT lung cancer screening program based on NLST criteria and methods would meet generally accepted criteria for the cost-effectiveness of a screening test. CT lung screening has a cost-benefit profile that compares favorably to mammography, and attendees at the meeting of NCI’s board of scientific advisors and national cancer advisory board were generally positive about CT lung screening’s impact.

“As a national cancer effort, we have been looking for a long time to find

an effective screening procedure for lung cancer,” said one attendee. “We have one now in front of us, and it’s quite striking. So I think we should embrace and celebrate that.”

CT Accredited Facility LogoData from NLST changed the debate over low-dose CT lung cancer screening when the information was released in 2011. The study found that screening reduced mortality by 20% in a population of current and former heavy smokers when compared to screening with chest x-ray, prompting widespread debate over if, when, and how CT lung screening could be rolled out to a wider population.

At Monday’s meeting, the data on cost-effectiveness were presented by Dr. Bill Black, a thoracic radiologist at Dartmouth University who was an investigator with the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), which conducted one of the two arms of NLST.

Black’s group examined data from the ACRIN arm and extrapolated it to the other arm of the trial, the Lung Screening Study. The group developed data on quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) for three different strategies: lung cancer screening with CT, screening with chest x-ray, and no screening at all. For purposes of the analysis, the researches assumed that chest x-ray was ineffective.

They found that while low-dose CT screening was the most expensive strategy of the three — costing $1,600 more per person than no screening — it produced the highest number of QALYs, or the number of years of life added due to an intervention. They then calculated the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), or the cost in 2009 dollars that each QALY added to a screening subject’s life.

DIS performs low-dose CT lung screening exams at all three of our locations. The test itself lasts about five minutes, with actual scanning time of less than one minute. If your physician or health care provider has recommended this type of screen for you, contact us at 504-883-5999 to have one of our friendly and experienced call center associates assist you. Or, click here to submit an online appointment request. You must have a referral order — the exam will not be performed without one.

Your cost for the exam: $99. This is $50 less than a West Bank hospital advertising the same screen for $150. Why pay more?

Say YES and spend LESS at DIS.