In 2016, then Vice President Joe Biden launched the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, with the audacious goal of doubling the rate of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care over a five-year period. The tremendous vision and passion of former Vice President Biden brought together stakeholders throughout the nation to address cancer— the second leading cause of death in the U.S.— in a national commitment to end cancer as we know it.
The American Lung Association has been proud to stand with the Biden Cancer Initiative, focusing intently on our work to defeat lung cancer.
Through our LUNG FORCE initiative, the Lung Association has united women and men to stand together against lung cancer, the nation’s leading cause of cancer death. Since launching LUNG FORCE in 2014, the Lung Association has increased our lung cancer research funding commitment by 160 percent, totaling over $12 million. Our efforts to reach policymakers on Capitol Hill have helped secure a 69 percent increase in National Institutes of Health (NIH) lung cancer research funding over the same timeframe.
The challenges posed by cancer are so vast, that no one organization can tackle the disease alone. We simply can no longer work in silos. We are stronger together, and the American Lung Association collaborates on groundbreaking research with organizations including Stand Up To Cancer and the LUNGevity Foundation because these collaborations are essential to spur the next wave of innovative solutions and discoveries in cancer research.
Although these investments in research have led to advances in lung cancer treatment and early detection, far too many people are still dying from lung cancer. Every year, more than 234,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer, and only 16 percent of these people are diagnosed at an early stage when the disease is more curable.
Efforts to improve prevention, early detection, awareness, research and support all move us closer to making sure fewer people are diagnosed with lung cancer and those who are diagnosed, live longer. That's why the Lung Association embarked on a national lung cancer screening public service announcement campaign with the Ad Council entitled "Saved By The Scan."
This campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of early detection through lung cancer screening for both current and former smokers who might be eligible—people like Kathy L. from Nashville. Kathy thought she might be at high risk for lung cancer because of her smoking history. When she learned about lung cancer screening through a local public radio ad, it inspired Kathy to discuss lung cancer screening with her doctor. A low-dose CT scan found that Kathy had early-stage lung cancer, and as a result, she was able to successfully have the nodule removed within two weeks through surgery.
"A lung CT scan saved my life. I feel unbelievably fortunate to have found my cancer so early," said Kathy.
Kathy has been active in helping the American Lung Association spread the word about screening and inspiring others to action, "If you have lung cancer, you want to find out early. If you have a scan, and there is no result, think of how reassuring that is," Kathy said.
Lung cancer screening has the potential to reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer by up to 20 percent, and if each of the 8 million Americans at high risk were to be screened, about 25,000 lives could be saved.
In just one year, more than 134,000 people took our "Saved By The Scan" screening eligibility quiz and more than 48,000 people who completed the quiz met the criteria and were encouraged to speak to their doctor about getting screened.
"Saved By The Scan" has helped us spread the word about screening, and has encouraged patients to speak with their doctor if they are concerned about their risk. However, it can take a decade for a new medical technique to be fully embraced by the medical community. To ensure that everyone at high risk has access to screening, we recognized the importance of supporting institutions in building screening programs. As a result, in May of 2018 we partnered with the American Thoracic Society to launch our new Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide, which is intended to support the implementation of lung cancer screening in institutions such as community hospitals and healthcare systems nationwide. We are grateful that the Biden Cancer Initiative will help us promote the implementation guide in an effort to ensure that everyone at high risk has access to screening.
By embracing collaboration, funding innovative research, empowering those at high risk to learn about the importance of screening, and supporting the adoption of screening programs so that everyone at high risk has access to screening, we are pursuing a world free of lung cancer for all Americans. In order to truly make a difference, we need your support: We ask that you share your story, help others learn about the "Saved By The Scan" campaign, and join us in our efforts to defeat lung cancer. Together, we can change cancer as we know it, and make Biden's moonshot a reality.