A Road Map for Increased Survival and Improved Quality of Life
Lung Cancer Alliance created and launched the award-winning National Framework of Excellence in Lung Cancer Screening and Continuum of Care in February 2012 in response to two groundbreaking events for our community:
- Successful completion of the National Lung Screening Trial by the National Cancer Institute showing that screening using low dose CT saves lives.
- Subsequent development of clinical guidelines by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
The National Framework has evolved over time into our Screening Guiding Principles and is designed to provide guidance for medical facilities to set up and implement responsible, high-quality screening programs and a continuum of care to ensure proper referral and treatment.
Our Response to a Public Health Imperative
Lung cancer is a public health imperative that claims more lives than the next four leading cancers combined, including breast and prostate cancers. The preventive and covered benefit of lung cancer screening using low-dose CT scans for the millions at high risk has been proven to save tens of thousands of lives a year when carried out safely, efficiently and equitably, and at a lower cost than other cancer screening methods.
Lung Cancer Alliance responded to this imperative by developing and activating The National Framework of Excellence in Lung Cancer Screening and Care. Our decade of work contributed to the subsequent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force “B” rating making lung cancer screening a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring full coverage for those at high risk (with no co-pays or deductibles) for most private insurance plans. Shortly thereafter, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) followed suit with preventive screening coverage for our high-risk seniors.
Accomplishments and Ongoing Activities
We are proud of our accomplishments obtaining recognition and implementing screening for the at-risk community. But we are not stopping there. Below are details on our ongoing programs and how LCA continues to lead the way on:
Lung Cancer Alliance established and provides guidance to a growing network of more than 600 Screening Centers of Excellence (SCOE) in community–based and academic settings across the country committed to responsible, high-quality screening practices within a continuum of care.
SCOEs adhere to guiding principles and best practices:
- Provide clear information on the risks and benefits of CT screening through a shared decision-making process.
- Comply with standards based on best published practices for controlling screening quality, radiation dose and diagnostic procedures.
- Work with a lung cancer multidisciplinary clinical team to carry out a coordinated process for screening, follow up and treatment when appropriate.
- Include a comprehensive cessation program for those still smoking or refer to comprehensive cessation programs.
- Report results to those screened and their referring provider and transmit requested copies in a timely manner.
- Have received or intend to receive designation as a lung cancer screening program through the American College of Radiology.
- Submit to an annual SCOE application and designation process to ensure adherence to best practices.
- Participate in the national SCOE data collection program to continuously refine best practices, increase adherence, and monitor outcomes and incidental findings to accelerate innovative research.
We provide the SCOE network with ongoing technical assistance, networking and training, including participation in the annual National Lung Cancer Screening & Care Conference. In addition, members of the SCOE network have access to free educational materials and support services for at risk individuals and those who have been diagnosed.
Responsible screening provides an unprecedented opportunity to study lung cancer at its earliest and even pre-cancerous stages. We work with thought leaders, screening implementers, patients and other stakeholders to ensure the acceleration of research in prevention, screening and early detection. The establishment of the Screening Centers of Excellence network leads naturally to the development of a consortium of sites that work with us along with academic, nonprofit, and corporate partners as a dedicated Lung Cancer Research Network. This network allows us to:
- Conduct implementation research, including related services such as shared decision-making consultations and smoking cessation.
- Improve understanding of risk prediction to determine who should be screened and how often.
- Identify clinically-relevant new technology including improved imaging and use of biomarkers to improve early detection and earlier understandings of the disease.
- Understand the impact of detection of other diseases during lung cancer screening.
Public health and policy leaders must recognize that lung cancer is a national public health priority that requires a more coordinated, comprehensive and compassionate plan of action to address all aspects of the disease. To reduce lung cancer mortality, advancements in lung cancer screening and research must be linked to prevention efforts in a continuum of care.
We remain committed to devising strategies and building coalitions that adapt to and support this vision and meet community needs, including:
- Increase federal funding to accelerate early detection and more personalized and targeted treatment research.
- Ensure fair and equitable access to protect and expand lung cancer screening and treatment benefits for those at risk and living with the disease.
- Secure coverage and reimbursement for breakthroughs in early detection and preventive services.
- Remove barriers to access high quality and affordable care.
- Preserve patient and physician decision-making to ensure a patient-centered healthcare system.