Higgins Introduces Legislation Aimed at Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screening
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) introduced legislation aimed at increasing access to lung cancer screening by providing grants that support the establishment and maintenance of new lung cancer screening registries.
Higgins, who serves a Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Cancer Caucus, said, “Lung cancer is an incredibly dangerous disease and remains the deadliest form of cancer in the United States. Cancer screening is an absolute priority when it comes to saving lives. Screening rates for lung cancer are incredibly low, and our new bill will help healthcare providers, like Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, increase our communities’ access to lung cancer screening.”
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all adults aged 55-80 who smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for at least 30 years or those who have quit smoking in the past 15 years receive an annual low-dose CT for lung cancer screening. But according to the National Cancer Institute, between 2010 and 2015 only six percent of all adults for whom screening is recommended underwent this simple procedure. Screening is key to catching lung cancer early when it can be curatively treated and save lives; a large national randomized controlled trial found that screening people at risk for lung cancer with a CT reduced the risk of dying from lung cancer by 20 percent compared to chest x-ray.
Cancer screening registries are databases that document the results of testing and are essential for healthcare professionals and researchers to understand lung cancer. Before a doctor can perform a lung cancer screening CT, the facility must have access to a lung cancer screening registry approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Currently, there is only one CMS-approved lung cancer screening registry.
Congressman Higgins’ bill, the Lung Cancer Screening Registry and Quality Improvement Act (HR107) helps alleviate the bottleneck in screening access by providing $2 million in grants annually for five years to assist with the creation and maintenance of a free lung cancer screening registry accessible to lung CT providers nationwide, eliminating one of the most significant barriers to lung cancer screening. Additionally, the bill would provide $1 million annually for five years to encourage the development of quality measures, using registry data, in order to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes in the lung cancer screening space.
“I applaud Congressman Higgins for submitting a bill that addresses a significant financial barrier to providing lung cancer screening to all eligible people. Lung cancer remains the deadliest cancer, killing more women and men than the other major cancers combined. Increasing access to lung cancer screening, especially in rural and underserved urban areas, will save tens of thousands of lives,” said Mary Reid, PhD, Chief of Cancer Screening and Survivorship at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.