N.C. Medicaid Patients Eligible for Recommended Lung Cancer Screening

October 28, 2019
Lung Cancer risk factors

More North Carolinians now have access to a quick and painless screening for lung cancer, which is the leading cause of death from cancer and the second most common cancer in the United States.

Medicaid patients in North Carolina can now qualify for low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening for lung cancer, which is recommended by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. New Hanover Regional Medical Center physicians and health officials worked directly with leaders of North Carolina’s Medicaid plan to advocate for this coverage. Medicaid covers more than 150,000 people in NHRMC’s seven-county service area. 

The National Lung Screening Trial showed a dramatic 20 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths among high-risk patients screening yearly with low-dose CT scans of the chest compared to patients screened with standard chest X-rays, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.

“Patients have more treatment options and better outcomes when we catch lung cancer earlier,” said Dr. Amy Messier, NHRMC CMIO, part of the team from NHRMC that advocated for the change. “Screening for high-risk patients is the best way to diagnose lung cancer in its earlier, more treatable stage.”

Smoking cigarettes is the No. 1 risk factor for lung cancer. NHRMC advises lung cancer screening if you are between the ages of 55 and 77, are a smoker or have quit in the past 15 years and have a smoking history of at least 30 pack years, meaning you smoked one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years. To ensure the screening is covered by Medicaid, patients will need a referral from their physician.  

NHRMC offers an annual program to screen high-risk patients until they have been a nonsmoker for 16 years or reach age 78.

NHRMC offers low-dose CT screening at multiple locations, including:

NHRMC Health & Diagnostics Brunswick Forest
NHRMC Health & Diagnostics Medical Mall
NHRMC Health & Diagnostics Military Cutoff
NHRMC Health & Diagnostics North (Scotts Hill)
Pender Memorial Hospital

Patients with a physician referral can call 910.667.8777 to schedule an appointment. For more information on lung cancer screening, visit: https://www.nhrmc.org/lung-cancer-screening