Molecular Imaging News
April 27, 2006
Landmark Project Expanding PET Coverage for Cancer Indications to Launch
The Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) is pleased to announce The National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR) will start accepting patient entries on Monday, May 8, 2006. Until now, Medicare only reimbursed for positron emission tomography (PET) scans for several common cancers, but the opening of NOPR means that participating Medicare beneficiaries will now have PET scans covered for essentially all types of cancers including, but not limited to, brain, cervical, small cell lung, pancreatic, testicular and ovarian cancers.
Since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its intent to support a PET registry in January 2005, SNM representatives have assisted in developing NOPR, a national, Internet-based, audited data repository designed to gather PET data from beneficiaries and providers and to report on that data. More than 600 PET facilities nationwide have already registered to take part in the NOPR and can now be reimbursed by CMS for PET indications currently not covered for payment. NOPR will collect data nationwide to allow for better assessment of the impact of PET in the management of patients with various forms of cancer or suspected cancer. In addition to SNM, representatives from AMI, ACR, ACRIN and the American Society of Clinical Oncology have also played a key role in guiding the project’s development.
"The launching of this registry is a milestone for cancer patients," said SNM President Peter S. Conti, professor of radiology, clinical pharmacy and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. "SNM continues to work collaboratively with our colleagues from different associations to advance patient care," noted Conti, who as SNM president represents more than 16,000 physician, technologist and scientist members. "PET advances will continue to provide new dimensions in imaging cancer as the medical community integrates advances made in molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, physics, pharmacology, engineering and computer sciences," added the director of the PET Imaging Science Center at USC's Keck School of Medicine.
Obtaining coverage for PET under NOPR requires that a patient's referring physician complete a short questionnaire before and another after the PET scan, which the PET facility will submit electronically to the NOPR database. This information is sent to CMS as a condition for payment. Additionally, if the patient and the referring physician indicate their willingness to participate in the research component of NOPR, the data will be used by NOPR investigators to assess the effect of PET on referring physicians’ plans of intended patient management across a wide spectrum of cancer indications for PET. NOPR investigators, with data analysis support from the ACRIN Biostatistics Center at Brown University, will report their findings to CMS.
"Working closely with NOPR is another example of CMS collaborating with the physician community to enhance the availability of innovative treatments and improve patient care," said Mark McClellan, CMS administrator.
PET, also called PET imaging or PET scan, is a test that images the function of cells to show differences between healthy tissue and diseased tissue. It uses a small amount of a radioactive chemical, which is combined with sugar. This combination is called FDG, so the test is sometimes called an FDG PET scan. It is used to evaluate various neurological and cardiac disorders as well as for diagnosing, staging and monitoring the treatment of many different cancers.
Sponsored by AMI and managed by ACR and ACRIN, NOPR is formally approved by CMS and the ACR Institutional Review Board.
For more information about NOPR, please visit www.cancerpetregistry.org.