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(Health24.com) – New screening guidelines for lung cancer could save tens of thousands of lives, but the CT scans involved will be costly, a new study has found.

Projections show that implementing the guidelines will detect nearly 55 000 more lung cancer cases during a five-year period, most of which would be potentially curable early stage cancers.

But, the cost to Medicare for lung cancer screening and subsequent treatment would be $9.3 billion over five years, which amounts to a $3 per month premium increase for every Medicare member.

“If screening is covered, it’s important for Medicare and health care systems to plan for increased demand for CT imaging and early stage treatments – for example, thoracic surgery and radiation therapy,” said study lead researcher Joshua Roth. He is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle.

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