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Bernardo H. L. Goulart, Mark E. Bensink, David G. Mummy and Scott D. Ramsey

A recent randomized trial showed that low-dose CT (LDCT) screening reduces lung cancer mortality. Health care providers need an assessment of the national budget impact and cost-effectiveness of LDCT screening before this intervention is adopted in practice. Using data from the 2009 National Health Interview Survey, CMS, and the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), the authors performed an economic analysis of LDCT screening that includes a budget impact model, an estimate of additional costs per lung cancer death avoided attributed to screening, and a literature search of cost-effectiveness analyses of LDCT screening. They conducted a one-way sensitivity analysis, reporting expenditures in 2011 U.S. dollars, and took the health care payer and patient perspectives. LDCT screening will add $1.3 to $2.0 billion in annual national health care expenditures for screening uptake rates of 50% to 75%, respectively. However, LDCT screening will avoid up to 8100 premature lung cancer deaths at a 75% screening rate. The prevalence of smokers who qualify for screening, screening uptake rates, and cost of LDCT scan were the most influential parameters on health care expenditures. The additional cost of screening to avoid one lung cancer death is $240,000. Previous cost-effectiveness analyses have not conclusively shown that LDCT is cost-effective. LDCT screening may add substantially to the national health care expenditures. Although LDCT screening can avoid more than 8000 lung cancer deaths per year, a cost-effectiveness analysis of the NLST will be critical to determine the value of this intervention and to guide decisions about its adoption.