Launch of registry aims to advance PET reimbursement

May 3, 2006

After more than a year of delays, the National Oncologic PET Registry will officially launch on Monday, May 8. It is intended to gather data proving the efficacy of FDG-PET imaging to diagnose, stage, and manage rare cancers currently not covered by Medicare.

After more than a year of delays, the National Oncologic PET Registry will officially launch on Monday, May 8. It is intended to gather data proving the efficacy of FDG-PET imaging to diagnose, stage, and manage rare cancers currently not covered by Medicare.

Early registration in the NOPR began at the 2005 RSNA meeting. More than 600 PET facilities nationwide have already registered and will now be eligible for reimbursement.

Coverage for PET indications has been doled out slowly over several years by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As new evidence accumulated attesting to PET's ability to image cancer, CMS granted coverage. The problem with this approach is that some rare cancers never rack up the necessary numbers to pass peer review muster. Clinicians can share anecdotal evidence that PET makes a difference with these cancers, but those stories don't put money on the table.

The data registry could speed the process.

PET imaging for small-cell lung and pancreatic cancer, for example, could be approved within a year, said Dr. R. Edward Coleman, former president of the Academy of Molecular Imaging, a sponsor of the registry. Other rare cancers that could get a boost from the registry include brain, cervical, ovarian, and testicular and soft-tissue sarcomas.

The American College of Radiology and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network have been working to develop the NOPR in collaboration with the AMI since CMS announced its intent to support a PET registry in January 2005. The American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Society for Nuclear Medicine also have played key roles in guiding the project's development.

Obtaining coverage for PET under the NOPR requires that the 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.

If the patient and referring physician indicate their willingness to participate in the research component of the 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. The NOPR investigators, with data analysis support from the ACRIN Biostatistics Center at Brown University, will report their findings to CMS.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

PET registry boosts coverage outlook for rare cancers

National Oncologic PET Registry takes initial enrollment steps

Regulatory issues hamper launch of new PET registry