CMS approves FDG PET for initial staging of cervical cancer

SNM applauds the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services- (CMS) decision to expand coverage of FDG PET for the initial staging of cervical cancer without previously imposed restrictions.

-CMS- decision to expand coverage of FDG PET for the initial treatment strategy evaluation of cervical cancer is important for patient care,- said Michael M. Graham, Ph.D., M.D., president of SNM. -Over the years, the body of scientific evidence has proven the value of molecular imaging scans for diagnosing, staging, restaging and monitoring treatment for many cancers."

Working with other medical societies, SNM encouraged CMS to end the prospective data collection requirements for FDG PET for the initial staging of some patients with cervical cancer. Previously, patients needing PET for initial staging of cervical cancer had to have this performed under the CMS coverage with evidence development policy, if the patient had not first had CT or MRI performed or if other imaging was done but showed evidence of metastatic disease outside of the pelvis. Based on the strong body of evidence, CMS concluded that FDG-PET can provide physicians with important information for how to treat patients with cervical cancer without the need for these restrictions.

-The decision to cover FDG PET for the initial staging of cervical cancer is an important step forward for patients,- said Graham. -FDG PET is a powerful tool for staging many malignancies and helping guide decisions about how to best treat each patient.-

Under the decision, CMS will cover one FDG PET scan for the staging of cervical cancer. In these cases, physicians can determine the precise location of the tumor and identify the extent to which the tumor has grown. Physicians can then use this information to determine the optimum initial treatment strategy for each individual patient. Additionally, this can help physicians determine whether or not the patient would benefit from further diagnostic tests or therapeutic procedures. Through expanded coverage, physicians can provide patients with an individualized course of therapy-meaning the right treatment at the right time.

The recent decision from CMS derives in part from data collected by the National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR)-a comprehensive study to assess the value of FDG PET for the initial diagnosis, staging and treatment of many common types of cancer. In April 2009, CMS made a decision to expand coverage of FDG PET for breast, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, head and neck, lymphoma, melanoma, non-small cell lung and thyroid cancers.

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