Early Detection of Lung Cancer

Project Overview:

Free ME from Lung Cancer plans to collaborate with Central Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital’s early detection program in order to increase awareness of the importance of early detection through low-dose CT scans, educate the community and providers about the program so they can be familiar with it and utilize its services, provide public service announcements promoting early detection, provide financial assistance to those in need so access to this potentially lifesaving diagnostic test is available and increase smoking cessation outreach. The public and many providers are not aware of the data supporting screening or are unsure how to access such screenings. This would provide a tremendous opportunity to gain momentum for a very important public health service and potentially have a significant impact on the overall health of the people of the State of Maine.

The Challenge:

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, resulting in more cancer related deaths annually than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined. The Maine Center for Disease Control states that Maine has one of the highest lung cancer rates in the nation. The disease is often not discovered until the late stages when little or no treatment is available. The five year survival rate for lung cancer has not changed since President Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971. However, we now have the opportunity to have an impact on the death grip lung cancer has on the nation and the citizens within the State of Maine through screening and early detection.

The United States Preventative Task Force recommendation in support of Lung Cancer Screening was finalized in December of 2013. This was in response to a lengthy evaluation of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) data presented in November of 2010 by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NSLT had over 55,000 patients and showed an overall reduction in Lung Cancer mortality of 20% for those high-risk individuals randomized to receive three consecutive annual lung cancer screening examinations with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) compared with an equivalent-risk group randomized to receive three consecutive annual chest x-rays (CXR). High risks groups are defined as 55-74 year old, current or former smokers with at least a 30 pack per year smoking history. If the patient has quit smoking they must have done so within the last 15 years, have had no prior chest CT scans within the last two years and be asymptomatic. 

Project Benefits:

The potential impact of this program on the community is to save the lives of those individuals that would have otherwise had undetected lung cancer until late stage symptoms developed. Integration of Lung Cancer Screening into the standard primary care provider patient survey could significantly impact the rate of early lung cancer detection and the mortality rate associated with this diagnosis. Education and outreach among providers and the public is necessary to increase awareness and begin a successful campaign in the fight against lung cancer.

The intended outcome would be to mirror the results found in the large NLST trial of improved early detection and reducing overall mortality. With the current lack of provider and public insight into the importance of early detection and screening our initial goal would be to see an increased number of high-risk Maine citizens undergoing lung cancer screening.

Free ME from Lung Cancer
Grant Amount Given: 
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Maine Cancer Foundation Grants to this Organization:

Year Program Amount Category Organization
2015 Early Detection of Lung Cancer $15,000 Screening Free ME from Lung Cancer