Lung Cancer Screening
For over 20 years the Colorado Cancer Coalition has guided the prevention, treatment and control of cancer statewide with the mission of eliminating the cancer burden in Colorado. One area of focus for the coalition is lung cancer, the third most common cancer in the United States and the leading cause of cancer deaths. To reduce the number of deaths in Colorado related to lung cancer, a team of local health care professionals joined together to create the Lung Cancer Task Force within the Colorado Cancer Coalition.
The Task Force began with a goal to increase the rate of early detection of lung cancer by accelerating the number of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screenings across the state. LDCT is a non-invasive imaging procedure that is beneficial in detecting lung cancer before it spreads, which increases the likelihood of surviving five years or more by nearly 60%. The Affordable Care Act made access to these tests free for patients who meet the medical history criteria, yet it was unclear how many patients were receiving the test as indicated.
In order to get a baseline number of LDCT lung cancer screenings and to understand how the number of tests was changing over time, the Task Force utilized the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD). The claims data helped them evaluate who was getting LDCT screenings across Commercial, Medicaid and Medicare health plans, and which providers were giving the screenings.
Equipped with the appropriate data, the Task Force could then pinpoint areas to focus across the state where there were gaps in screenings, and identify provider champions in regions where screening activity was high. The data was critical to help the Task Force design and implement an active community-based awareness program focused on provider organizations and consumers who fit the LDCT benefit target audience. The Task Force gets annual updates of the data to track progress towards their goal of increasing screenings and expanding their program. Through the work of the Lung Cancer Task Force, more providers and high-risk patients are more aware of the impact of early screenings, which subsequently, is saving more and more lives.