We have all witnessed firsthand the success of detecting lung cancer early. With early detection, patients are often eligible for curative resection, providing significant improvement in both morbidity and mortality when compared to what occurs with a late-stage diagnosis. Still, challenges remain in enrollment and return visits for lung cancer screening (LCS).
The President’s Cancer Panel has charged associations, screening centers, and community health advocates with communicating and promoting LCS. The panel monitors the activities of the National Cancer Program and reports to President Joe Biden on barriers to reducing cancer.
To answer the call, the ACR and its partners are asking screening centers nationwide to open their doors on Saturday, Nov. 12, to grant individuals access to LCS without having to take a day off work if they are unable to be screened during the week — thereby increasing the accessibility of screening overall. It will provide one extra day of screening that could save lives.
We’ve partnered with the American Cancer Society and the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer on this outreach. We have also forwarded an overview of this initiative to the communications lead for First Lady Jill Biden, EdD, recognizing her passion for cancer education and prevention.
This is the introductory year for the initiative, but we envision that it will become an annual event on the second Saturday of each November. In addition to marketing and informational materials, the ACR will provide an “engage your local media” toolkit every year to create a buzz in mid-to-late October. By promoting this day, facilities will be extending screening opportunities to those who may be unaware of this lifesaving, preventative screening option — actively increasing awareness of screening within their communities.
Anyone can sign up — facilities that are already open for screening or those that want to open their doors on this day specifically. We expect that patient advocates will support the purpose of this day and spread the word of its importance. Everyone has a role in doing so. The next life saved could be someone near and dear to you. Simply put, early detection saves lives. It is our hope that this national day will be approved so that it will be noted on calendars each November moving forward.
Lifesaving LCS has a low rate of adoption of only about 20% among eligible patients compared to mammography and colorectal cancer screening, which both have adoption rates of about 80%. This disparity is, in part, due to a lack of awareness by referring providers and patients.1,2 Access to LCS has been particularly challenging for rural and historically marginalized groups, who are more likely to live more than 30 minutes away from a designated LCS center, be underinsured, and/or have lower health literacy levels.3,4,5
However, inadequate access to care and low utilization rates for LCS present an opportunity for patient advocates, medical professionals, cancer centers, health systems, payers, industry, and community health organizations to work together to reduce healthcare disparities and enhance accessibility to lifesaving LCS.
Additionally, the ACR’s Lung Cancer Screening Registry (LCSR) can help clinicians monitor and demonstrate the quality of CT LCS in their practices through periodic feedback reports that include peer and registry benchmarks. Because screening is performed on an asymptomatic population, there is added responsibility for the medical community to ensure that risks and benefits are adequately measured and monitored.
Please consider joining the ACR, the National Lung Cancer Roundtable, and the Radiology Health Equity Coalition to promote National LCS Day on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. In the spirit of Thanksgiving this month, I thank you in advance for your support of this initiative.