Lung cancer screening could cost Medicare billions

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A new study estimates that it would cost Medicare about $2 billion a year to screen certain current and former heavy smokers for lung cancer. Researchers found that annual lung scans and follow-up tests and treatment would add $3 a month to Medicare premiums.

Medicare has not yet determined whether it will cover the lung scans, recommended last year by a government task force for heavy smokers most at risk of developing the disease.

The new study finds that screening would double the number of lung cancers found at an early, more curable stage.

Results were released Wednesday and will be presented at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference later this month.

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