May 11, 2012
Lung Cancer Alliance was thrilled to be able to participate in Prevent Cancer Foundation’s annual Lung Cancer Workshop on Quantitative Applications for CT Imaging for Early Lung Cancer Management. This was our sixth year of attendance and we came away with an even deeper understanding of and respect for the research and researchers engaged in this important and life-saving work.
Lung Cancer Alliance was asked to help lead the “policy perspective” discussion among this diverse group of medical, academic, industry and public health experts.
We began with an overview of the exciting convergence of events taking place for the lung cancer community. These include the scientific validation that screening people at high risk with low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans can reduce lung cancer mortality even more significantly and with far greater impact than other cancer screening methods such as mammograms or prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing. Estimates suggest that over 70,000 lives a year could be saved if we screened those at high risk today.
In addition to the science, we noted the recent launch of Lung Cancer Alliance’s National Framework for Lung Cancer Screening Excellence and Continuum of Care — a blue print that informs those at risk of their rights and outlines best practice guidelines for sites offering lung screening and care. This National Framework has been adopted by close to 100 medical centers to date and showcases responsible, safe and cost-effective methods of standardized care.
We also noted the recent actuarial analysis conducted by Milliman which documents that CT scans can save more lives, and at a lower cost than commonly used screening methods for other cancers.
Finally, we highlighted the growing support for first ever legislation calling for a more compassionate, coordinated and comprehensive plan of action to address all aspects of lung cancer. The legislation has strong bi-partisan backing and has been introduced in both House of Representatives and United States Senate. This legislation has also spawned a national network of political and grassroots activism that has firmly established a national movement for lung cancer awareness.
All participants agreed that these events – linked together — have the potential of realizing the greatest life-saving, cost benefiting, cancer mortality reducing opportunity ever – because they are focused on the leading cause of cancer death – lung cancer.
We discussed the challenges of engaging key government agencies responsible for screening related programs and considered next step strategies for expediting their reviews and activities. We discussed other public and private stakeholder interests and how best to reach key decision makers who could take swift action to implement screening and research related initiatives. We considered historical contexts of other cancer screenings and applied “lessons learned” to the case of lung cancer screening. Strategies were developed and assignments made.
All agreed – we have a big task ahead as we work to translate the science of lung cancer screening into public health benefit. But no one was deterred either – rather all showed an even greater level of commitment to accomplish the important life-saving task at hand. So stay tuned – the best is yet to come!
And a big thank you to Prevent Cancer Foundation for its continued leadership an support to the entire cancer community!