ACR rolls out lung-cancer screening designation

The American College of Radiology today announced the launch of the ACR Lung Cancer Screening Center Program, a designation that would ensure providers meet specific equipment, personnel and imaging-protocol requirements.

In earning the designation, facilities will communicate that they have met the quality and safety benchmarks the college has determined to be the hallmarks of an effective lung-cancer screening program. Providers must use a follow-up system with structured reporting and management recommendations, a referral process for self-referred patients and abide by the ACR communications practice guidelines. A mechanism for smoking cessation must also be in place.

“Lung cancer screening in patients at high risk of acquiring the disease is the most effective way to identify tumors and reduce lung cancer deaths,” said Dr. Ella Kazerooni, chair of the ACR Committee on Lung Cancer Screening, in a prepared statement. “This ACR program provides for quality assurance that helps facilities consistently ensure the greatest possible lifesaving benefit from these exams and more efficiently put their patients on the path to better health.”

Program applicants also must have an active ACR CT accreditation in the chest module and ensure that:

• interpreting physicians have read 200 chest CT cases in the prior 36 months;

• medical physicists and radiologic technologists meet the requirements of the CT accreditation program;

• CT equipment specification and performance meet state and federal requirements as well as applicable ACR Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards; and

• CT scanners used for the purpose of lung-cancer screening are multidetector helical CT scanners.

The fee to apply for the program designation is $400, with details on the specifications and process posted on the ACR website.

This is the second component of a rapidly developing lung-cancer screening program infrastructure announced by the ACR since MEDCAC gave its low-confidence vote to low-dose lung cancer screening.  The ACR released its preliminary version of its Lung-RADS™ program earlier this month. MEDCAC met at the request of CMS, which is engaged in a coverage analysis decision that will be published in November.

“The ACR Lung Cancer Screening Center designation signifies to patients and payers that these lifesaving exams are provided in a safe, effective manner,” said Dr. Bibb Allen, Jr., FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, in a prepared statement. “Both will be looking for this quality assurance moving forward. The ACR designation is an efficient process to support robust CT lung-cancer screening programs and demonstrate commitment to high-quality care.”

In December, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) gave low-dose CT lung-cancer screening in high-risk populations (30 pack year current and former smokers who quick within the past 15 years) a B recommendation.  The Affordable Care Act requires commercial payors to cover all procedures recommended by the USPSTF with a B or better grade.