Studies show Kentucky has more cases of lung cancer than any other state and the number of lung cancer related deaths in the Commonwealth is almost 50 percent higher than the national average.
A $7 million grant announced Wednesday is expected to help reduce Kentucky's lung cancer mortality rate. The program is called Kentucky LEADS- Lung Cancer. Education, Awareness. Detection. Survivorship.
The University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center, the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at U of L, and the Lung Cancer Alliance are joining together to launch the initiative. UK's Dr. Tim Mullett will coordinate low dose CT screening at 10 sites in Kentucky. "By amplifying our efforts in lung cancer screening we will be able to shift those from a very low survivor opportunity in late stage disease, to a much higher survivor opportunity in early stage disease," said Mullett.
Dr. Mullett says the key to prevention is screening citizens who are at the highest risk for the disease and continuing with annual scans. LEADS Director Jamie Studts says it will likely take some time before Kentucky sees a sizable drop in the number of lung cancer related deaths. "With the implementation of lung cancer screening, that over the next 5-10 years there's a chance that we really will see a drop in the lung cancer mortality rate related to the high quality implementation of that program throughout the state," said Studts.
John Damonti, President of Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, says he's impressed by the timing of the collaboration. "I was somewhat concerned about how long this would take to pull all this together, said Damonti. I have to say that I have not seen in so many years, three partners come together and make this thing happen so quickly."
In addition to screening, another major focus of LEADS is educating the medical community. It will include reviewing doctor practice patterns which could affect the referral and treatment of lung cancer patients .