Mobile Unit Begins Lung Cancer Screening in Rural Areas of Carolinas

Mobile Unit Begins Lung Cancer Screening in Rural Areas of Carolinas

The Carolinas HealthCare System‘s Levine Cancer Institute has dispatched a mobile lung computed tomography (CT) unit to rural areas of North and South Carolina to diagnose lung cancer.

The hope is that the unit helps address treatment and survival disparities between city and rural populations.

The unit was designed and created in collaboration with the Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) Foundation, Samsung, and Frazer. The pioneering technology is the first to provide rural populations with lung cancer education and treatment guidance. The initiative links the mobile unit, care facilities, and trained staff.

The partners said financial barriers and lack of public transportation are key reasons for irregular cancer screening in rural areas. Regular screening is essential to early diagnosis, treatment, and survival in lung cancer.

By bringing the screening to underserved populations, the partners hope to achieve better outcomes, particularly among those at higher risk.

“This unique vehicle visibly demonstrates our commitment to removing the barriers to care that exist in many of the communities served by Levine Cancer Institute,” Derek Raghavan, MD, the institute’s president, said in a press release. “We firmly believe that by taking advanced, low-radiation lung cancer screenings to these communities, new lung cancer patients will be diagnosed at an earlier stage and will have access to a broad array of support and treatments.”

When patients are screened, they receive detailed information about any follow-up that’s necessary.

The unit includes a low-dose CT scanner that can generate high-quality images of soft tissue and bone. It has a wireless connection for image transfer. It also includes two iPads that can be used to educate patients on how to stop smoking and adopt healthier lifestyles.

In fact, one of the initiative’s objectives is to raise awareness about how stopping smoking and adopting healthy lifestyles can save your life.

A BMS Foundation grant is providing funding for the Lung B.A.S.E.S. 4 Life program, a comprehensive education and treatment effort.

“It is our belief that a mobile screening program like Lung B.A.S.E.S. 4 Life could lead to a new industry standard for how initial diagnosis and care for lung cancer patients should transpire to ensure quality outcomes and extended survivorship,” said John Damonti, the president of the BMS Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Levine Cancer Institute on the Lung B.A.S.E.S. 4 Life comprehensive screening program to demonstrate that cutting edge cancer screening can happen in the most rural communities in our country. This will move the needle in terms of lung cancer survival and will provide a template for other states and organizations to follow.”

If a patient who visits the mobile unit is diagnosed with lung cancer, the Levine Cancer Institute or a Carolinas HealthCare System facility will provide education and guidance to help them decide on a treatment course, regardless of their insurance status.

“By eliminating the transportation, financial, and resource barriers to care that prevent patients from accessing early diagnosis and life-saving treatment, we believe this program will improve the quality of life and enhance survivorship for lung cancer patients in the Carolinas,” said Mellisa Wheeler, director of disparities and outreach at Levine. “Access to optimal screening is paramount to early detection, intervention and survival for those at high risk for contracting the deadly disease.”

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