Let’s talk about lungs: Building awareness across the nation

Published on November 29, 2018

After the world turns pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s time for another type of cancer to take the spotlight: lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death for both men and women and is responsible for 14 percent of all new cancer cases—so our fight is far from over. In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight how some of the Prevent Cancer Foundation community grant recipients are promoting lung cancer screening, education and prevention across the U.S.

Photo of a health care provider and patient at
McLaren Northern Michigan

Improving access

Rural communities often have less access to critical preventive services like cancer screenings, which can lead to worse health outcomes. The McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation serves rural communities across Michigan, providing care to communities who need it.

With their Prevent Cancer Foundation grant, McLaren Northern Michigan is providing critical lung cancer education and services to 22 rural counties across the northern Lower Peninsula and eastern Upper Peninsula. This includes:

  • Early lung cancer screenings for 400 patients
  • Lung cancer prevention and smoking cessation education to 1,350 community members

These efforts will greatly improve access to lung cancer screening and prevention services across the state. They anticipate a 33 percent increase in screenings for high risk patients and a 50 percent increase in smoking cessation program enrollment, which will make a big difference in helping Michiganders prevent lung cancer or detect it early, when successful treatment is more likely.

Reducing disparities

Research has shown that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. In California, 36 percent of Korean-Americans are current smokers and 29 percent are former smokers. They also have the highest rate of lung cancer deaths compared to other Asian-American ethnic groups. 

Photo of a health care provider greeting a patient at the clinic

With their Prevent Cancer Foundation grant, the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) is reducing these disparities with a comprehensive screening, education and prevention program. Their multi-pronged approach includes:

  • Free lung cancer screening and education, including transportation costs
  • Free smoking cessation services based on the American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking (ALA FFS) program and CVS’ Quit Smoking initiative
  • Expansion of a community advisory board to help guide outreach activities and advocate for policy solutions

Creating change

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 58.4 percent of current Hispanic smokers want to quit smoking. This is lower than almost all other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

Photo of a promotora sharing resources with a community member

With their Prevent Cancer Foundation grant, Norton HealthCare wanted to reduce smoking rates in the Hispanic/Latino population to prevent future lung cancer cases. They recruited a community health worker (promotora) to lead individual and group smoking cessation counseling within the Hispanic/Latino community.

By counseling community members who smoke, the promotora was able to achieve a 40 percent quit rate. She distributed almost 2,400 fliers in the community, including to mobile home parks, laundromats, salons and grocery stores, and created personal contacts with almost 1,300 individuals in the community.

 “Smoking is tough in the Hispanic community. I have people telling me that Cubans get cigarettes in their cribs, but a lot of them want to quit for themselves and their families. People know we’re here for them now. I had a woman come up to me after church last weekend and tell me, ‘I try to hide it, but between you, me and God I still smoke.’ She’s ready to quit.”

For more information on lung cancer prevention and early detection, visit If you’re ready to stop smoking, call 1-800-QuitNow to be connected with a trained quit coach in your area. 

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