The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) has issued a statement claiming that a recent study analyzing the cost associated with implementing the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations for low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) for high-risk lung cancer patients in the Medicare program overlooks a potentially life-saving opportunity for thousands of patients.

A study from the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial previously found that 12,000 deaths could be avoided annually if high-risk patients between the ages of 55 and 74 underwent a LDCT scan. In January, the USPSTF finalized its recommendation for the use of annual LDCT scans to screen individuals 55 to 80 years of age who are at high risk for lung cancer. Several military hospitals have begun phased implementation of LDCT screening, including the Naval Medical Center San Diego, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md, and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Energy (DoE), and private insurers including WellPoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates, and Anthem affiliates have also begun providing coverage for the procedure. Insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act’s health exchanges will begin coverage for the scans in 2015.

“Lung cancer screening for high risk populations will save thousands of lives and is at least as cost effective as other essential screening tests including breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings,” said Gail Rodriguez, executive director of MITA. “When assessing the full value of LDCT, it is critical to acknowledge the clinical and cost-effectiveness data that support its use.”

For more information, visit MITA.