CancerCare® and LUNGevity Foundation to Launch CONNECTING for Lung Health to Bridge Health Care Disparities

Pilot Locations to Launch in Cook County, Chicago with University of Illinois at Chicago and Brooklyn, New York with Weill Cornell Medicine

CancerCare, the leading national nonprofit organization providing free, professional support services to anyone affected by cancer, is excited to announce the launch of a new pilot program called CONNECTING for Lung Health (Community Navigation in Neighborhoods for LDCT Screening for LUNG HEALTH) to encourage the use of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screenings among people at high risk of lung cancer. CancerCare’s advocacy partner in this initiative is the LUNGevity Foundation, the nation’s leading lung cancer-focused nonprofit organization. The clinical partners are the Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE) for UI Cancer Center; University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, and the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) for Weill Cornell Medicine’s Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center. The program will combine community outreach, lay navigation, education and CancerCare case management, and will launch in June of this year.

Lung cancer incidence is 15% higher in Black men than in white men. Black adults in general are more frequently diagnosed with late-stage disease compared to white adults and are 17% more likely to die from the disease. LDCT screenings have been shown to reduce mortality in older smokers by 15 to 20%, with even more favorable benefits in Black adults. However, despite these screenings being covered by private insurance and Medicare, utilization remains low. This has been attributed to a variety of factors including fear related to lung cancer, lack of knowledge, negative attitudes about screening and fears associated with cancer in general, although structural racism endemic to the healthcare system is the foundational culprit.

CONNECTING for Lung Health aims to bridge the gap in lung cancer care and mortality among underserved populations, especially for Black adults, who have a 20% lower 5-year survival rate compared to their white counterparts. The program’s focus is to increase lung screening and facilitate smoking cessation counseling among at-risk Black men in two communities of relatively high lung cancer incidence in specific areas of Chicago (the south and west sides of Cook County) and Brooklyn (Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville) by using lay navigators. CancerCare and LUNGevity are proud to partner with the University of Illinois Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medicine’s Meyer Cancer Center to leverage both health systems’ strong community presence and established community outreach programs. These areas have also been selected due to Medicaid/Medicare coverage and access to LDCT Screening Centers of Excellence.

“Key changes for Lung Cancer Screening guidelines by the United States Preventive Services Task Force include expansion of the recommended eligibility criteria to begin screening at age 50 years instead of 55 years, and requiring 20 rather than 30 total pack-years of first-hand cigarette smoke exposure,” noted Ellen Miller-Sonet, Chief Strategy and Policy Officer at CancerCare. “We initiated this project because we believe there is a real opportunity to address disparities in access to lung cancer screening, which may lead to earlier diagnosis among people from vulnerable communities.”

According to Jeanne Regnante, Chief Health Equity and Inclusion Officer at the LUNGevity Foundation, “A key element of our program is education, using health literate, culturally competent and linguistically appropriate resources to inform and engage high risk individuals in these communities. We’re creating a tool kit for lay navigators that will also address issues regarding stigma and bias, and for people needing more information or support, oncology social workers can provide case management and financial navigation through the CancerCare/LUNGevity Helpline.”

In addition to increasing screening rates, CONNECTING for Lung Health will develop a model for engaging at-risk and/or high incidence communities, educate navigators and patients and provide practical and emotional support to those diagnosed. The findings from both pilot sites will also be analyzed and published to inform future initiatives both within the lung cancer space and beyond.

About CancerCare®
Founded in 1944, CancerCare is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. Our comprehensive services include counseling and support groups over the phone, online and in-person, educational workshops, publications and financial and co-payment assistance. All CancerCare services are provided by master’s-prepared oncology social workers and world-leading cancer experts. To learn more, visit our website or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

About LUNGevity Foundation
LUNGevity Foundation is the nation’s leading lung cancer organization focused on improving outcomes for people with lung cancer through research, policy initiatives, education, support, and engagement for patients, survivors, and caregivers. LUNGevity seeks to make an immediate impact on quality of life and survivorship for everyone touched by the disease—while promoting health equity by addressing disparities throughout the care continuum. LUNGevity works tirelessly to advance research into early detection and more effective treatments, provide information and educational tools to empower patients and their caregivers, promote impactful public policy initiatives, and amplify the patient voice through research and engagement. The organization provides an active community for patients and survivors—and those who help them live longer and better lives.

Comprehensive resources include a medically vetted and patient-centric website, a toll-free HELPLine for support, the International Lung Cancer Survivorship Conference, and an easy-to-use Clinical Trial Finder, among other tools. All of these programs are to achieve our vision—a world where no one dies of lung cancer. LUNGevity Foundation is proud to be a four-star Charity Navigator organization.

Please visit www.LUNGevity.org to learn more.

About Lung Cancer in the US

  • About 1 in 16 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.
  • More than 235,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.
  • About 60%-65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers.
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than the next three leading cancers (colorectal, breast, and prostate) combined.
  • Only 19% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive 5 years or more, BUT if it’s caught before it spreads, the chance of 5-year survival improves dramatically.

    This project has been funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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