Medicare plans to start paying for lung cancer screening for people at high risk, a move that advocates say could save thousands of lives every year by catching the disease earlier. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made a formal proposal Monday to start paying for low-dose CT scans to look for lung tumors for people with a high risk of the world’s No. 1 cancer killer.

“I think after a long effort to get to this point, CMS got it right,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, president and CEO of Lung Cancer Alliance. “This has the potential of being one of the most significant cancer mortality-reducing efforts to date. We are finally focusing on what is a quarter of all cancer, and that’s lung cancer,” Ambrose told NBC News. “We are going to see the meter move on cancer’s mortality. It’s an extraordinary time for our commuity and we are thrilled.”

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