Keywords: CT scanner, geographical access, smokers, state health policy
In 2013, the U.S. Preventative Task Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended lung cancer screening (LCS) using CT scans to reduce the incidence of lung cancer for high-risk individuals. With Medicaid supporting this program, ease of geographic access to CT scanners may become a primary determinant of who gets screened. To identify areas of the country where access to CT scanners is poor, we have analysed and mapped the distribution of travel distance to the nearest CT scanner for at risk smokers across the country. Our analysis shows wide variation of the mean distance to nearest CT scanner both within and across states. A substantial portion of this variability is explained by changes in population density. However, there are significant differences in how states appear to respond to changes in population density in terms of placement of additional CT scanning locations. These differences may be explained by variations in state level health policy. Data for this analysis was obtained from a number of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Radiology.