OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center Awarded $1.7 Million for Mobile Lung Screening Bus

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OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center Awarded $1.7 Million for Mobile Lung Screening Bus

OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has received over $1.7 million from Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) to increase access to lung cancer screening in Oklahoma.

The award will enable Stephenson Cancer Center to develop the Oklahoma Mobile Lung Cancer Screening Action Network (Oklahoma LUNG SCAN) – a statewide program to provide Oklahoman’s access to screening in their home communities – along with a lung screening bus that will travel to perform screenings across the state to patients in remote communities or who lack access to hospitals and screening services.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the country. In 2022 there were approximately 236,740 new lung cancer cases and 130,180 lung cancer deaths. The majority of lung cancer cases aren’t detected until symptoms appear, and by then in 30 percent of patients the disease has spread outside of the lungs and is difficult to treat. For the best possible outcomes, lung cancer needs to be detected early. The U.S. National Institutes of Health report that a low-dose CT scan can detect lung cancers in early stages and can reduce deaths from lung cancer by up to 20 percent.

“According to data from the American Lung Association, Oklahoma ranks last in five-year survival rates from lung cancer at 20 percent, which is significantly lower than the national average. We are also 47th in rates of patients undergoing surgery for lung cancer, which gives the best chance for cure, and only 2 percent of predicted eligible patients undergo lung cancer screening, ranking us in the bottom tier for lung screening,” said Matthew Reinersman, M.D., FACS, thoracic oncologic surgeon and director of the Lung Cancer Screening Clinic at Stephenson Cancer Center. “We know that cancer screening saves lives. But Oklahoma has many rural areas that do not have access locally to these opportunities. The tremendous partnership with TSET to support the Stephenson Cancer Center in the mobile screening vehicle program helps close the gap and ensures we reach as many people as possible to improve lung cancer care in the state of Oklahoma.”

Access to high-quality healthcare and screening is a challenge in under-resourced communities and minority populations in Oklahoma. The mortality rates among American Indians in Oklahoma are 50-99 percent higher for lung cancer than rates for non-American Indians. American Cancer Society’s 2022 guidelines recommend annual screening for people who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years or more, are age 50 or older, and still smoke or who quit smoking in the past 15 years. Lung cancer screening is fast and non-invasive, with no preparation is required of the individual.

“The LUNG SCAN program builds on the partnership with TSET and Stephenson Cancer Center to provide state-of-the-art mobile screening for lung cancer to communities throughout Oklahoma, making screenings available to Oklahomans who would otherwise have no access to this life-saving screening service,” said Stephenson Cancer Center Director, Robert Mannel, M.D. “Our partnership with TSET has profoundly affected the lives of countless Oklahomans through their support of access to cancer clinical trials and cancer research, and will continue to do so.”

Screenings will be fully covered by public and private insurance and patients who test positive will be connected with services that provide diagnostic follow-up testing. The program will begin in 2024 and will be fully implemented across the state by 2028.

You can learn more about Stephenson Cancer Center, as well as lung screening options and care at https://ouhealthlungcancer.hc.digital/