By Kim Polacek, APR, CPRC - September 19, 2022
Lung cancer screening saves lives, but it is greatly underutilized. That is the message Moffitt Cancer Center physicians, researchers and patients took to our nation’s capital. The group met with congressional members from Florida and other states to ask for support to increase access to and improve education about lung cancer screening, a message that aligns closely with President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot goal to reduce cancer deaths by 50% over the next 25 years.
“Lung cancer causes more cancer deaths than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. However, only 6% of those eligible are getting screened. We could save 60,000 lives each year if the 14.5 million Americans who are eligible received an annual lung cancer screening,” said Dr. Jhanelle Gray, chair of the Thoracic Oncology Department at Moffitt.
In addition to one-on-one meetings, Moffitt and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center partnered with U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Brian Higgins for a congressional briefing on the topic. The one-hour event at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center focused on barriers to lung cancer screening and policy steps necessary to increase screening rates and reduce cancer deaths nationwide.
“Cancer research and care, including early detection and prevention, is a bipartisan issue. We all need to come together to reduce the cancer death rate in America,” said Dr. Patrick Hwu, president and CEO of Moffitt. “Lung cancer screening is a simple 15-minute CT scan that is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies. If we can catch lung cancer early, we can treat and cure it.”
Castor is hoping to help Moffitt screen more Floridians for lung cancer by taking the CT scanner directly to the community. She has requested $2.3 million in the fiscal year 2023 budget for Moffitt to purchase a mobile screening unit to reach underserved populations.
“We must double down on screenings and prevention to save lives,” said Castor. “Fortunately, Moffitt Cancer Center, one of the nation’s premier cancer research institutes, is at the forefront of cancer prevention. Together, we are committed to saving tens of thousands of lives lost to lung cancer each year through outreach and early detection like lung screening.”
Moffitt advocates ended their busy day on Capitol Hill supporting Castor at the Congressional Women’s Softball Game. The annual game, featuring congressional members playing against members of the media, supports the Young Survival Coalition, an organization supporting young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Congratulations to Team Congress, who took home a 6-5 win.