A cost-benefit analysis of the 2010 National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), presented last week at a meeting of the National Cancer Institute's Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Cancer Advisory Board, has found that CT lung cancer screening meets the accepted criteria for cost effectiveness.
In analyzing data from the NLST Trial, researchers determined quality adjusted life years (QALYs) scores for three screening strategies: low dose CT, chest X-ray and no scan. According to the data--presented by Bill Black, M.D., a thoracic radiologist at Dartmouth University who was an investigator with the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN)--low dose CT, although the most expensive strategy, produced the highest number of QALYs with an incremental cost effectiveness of almost $73,000.
"It's not my role to say what's acceptable, but I can just point out to you that it's pretty well-regarded in the medical literature by policymakers that this is in the acceptable range; less than $100,000 per QALY is considered acceptable," Black said at the meeting, according to AuntMinnie.com. "There are a lot of things that we do that cost far more than that per QALY."
Black said that results of the analysis suggest that low dose CT lung cancer screening compares favorably to mammography, using the 50-year-old threshold at which breast screening begins.
Imaging and advocacy organizations were pleased with results of the cost effectiveness analysis.
"This recent evidence has shown that not only is CT lung cancer screening appropriate when performed in the context of careful patient selection and follow-up, reducing lung cancer mortality by 20 percent, but is also cost effective," the American College of Radiology said in a statement. The ACR went on to say it will use the finding in its ongoing creation of practice guidelines for the use of LDCT for lung cancer screening, as well as the development of appropriateness criteria and staffing and care models needed to support widespread screening.