No More Excuses On Lung Cancer Screening; A Call To Action For The CDC

Today I have the privilege of posting a guest collaborators work on this site. I believe it is good to collaborate and work with other people, and I am humbled and honored to be able to post this piece on the site today.

I would like to introduce everyone one to Andrea Borondy Kitts. Andrea lost her husband, Dan, to lung cancer on April 12th, 2013 after an 18 month hard fought battle. Dan had all the risk factors for lung cancer. He was 69 years old at the time of his diagnosis, he had quit smoking 11 years prior to his diagnosis, he had an 80 pack year smoking history, his sister had died of lung cancer at age 62 and Dan had COPD. Dan was a ticking time bomb for lung cancer. Unfortunately, at the time of his diagnosis, lung cancer screening was not recommended. During Andrea’s journey as Dan’s caregiver, she became convinced that she needed to do something to change the lung cancer experience.
Andrea is a mechanical  engineer, she has a Master’s degree in Management and retired after a 32 year career in aerospace, 10 years as an executive. She is back in school working on a 2nd Masters degree, this time in Public Health. Andrea is an advocate for lung cancer as a volunteer for the American Lung Association, for the National Lung Cancer Partnership, on twitter as @findlungcancer, and for several Hartford area hospitals with their lung cancer screening programs. She is determined to change the lung cancer statistics and the lung cancer experience for all of those yet to come. 

With the recent announcement of the finalized recommendations by the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) on Lung Cancer Screening in High Risk Populations, this is most appropriate and timely.

 This is Andrea’s story.

“No More Excuses On Lung Cancer Screening; A Call To Action For The CDC”

When my husband, Dan, was diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2011, the results from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) showing a 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality with Low Dose CT (SDCT) scan screening had been known for over a year and had been published for 4 months. When Dan died in my arms at 10:21 am on April 12, 2013; all of the major lung and cancer associations recommended LDCT scan lung cancer screening for the high risk population of current and former smokers. On December 30, 2013, 3 years after the NLST trial results hit the streets; the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) released their final recommendation on lung cancer screening.

“The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Screening should be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years or develops a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy or the ability or willingness to have curative lung surgery. (B recommendation)”

There are no more excuses for not screening the at risk population in the United States for lung cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women in the United States and world-wide. Each year, 160,000 people die from lung cancer. More people die from lung cancer than colon, breast. pancreatic and prostate cancer combined. Lung cancer’s five-year survival rate of 16 percent has remained essentially unchanged since 1975. Of the 228,000 people newly diagnosed with lung cancer each year, more than 50 percent are former smokers. Many former smokers don’t realize they may still be at high risk for lung cancer; mistakenly believing quitting smoking reduces lung cancer risk at the same rate as quitting smoking reduces cardiovascular risks.

On Oct 25, 2013, I attended the Connecticut Public Health Association Annual Conference. The keynote speaker was Judith A. Monroe, MD FAAFP, Deputy Director for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. She talked about several public health success stories. One of these stories was the success of reducing cervical cancer deaths through screening with Pap testing. Dr. Monroe said the success was based on the triangulation of public health, medicine and innovation. The innovation was the development of the Pap test. This was coupled with the CDC raising awareness with the physician community and the general public about screening and with the physician community recommending the screening for their patients. This triangulation of success resulted in a large reduction in cervical cancer prevalence and mortality due to getting the at risk population screened. The Pap smear is the most successful cancer screening technique in medical history. Pap screening reduced cervical cancer death rates by 74 percent between 1955 and 1992, and the rate continues to decline by about 2 percent a year.

Lung cancer screening is at the same junction now as cervical cancer was in the 1950’s. Up until now, the CDC has been watching the lung cancer screening debate from the sidelines. With the release of the USPSTF final recommendation there needs to be a “Call to Action” for the CDC to become proactive and raise awareness with both the physician community and the general public on annual lung cancer screening for the high risk population. Let’s make lung cancer screening one of the future public health success stories.

In the words of Dr. Mulshine, Associate provost and vice president for research at Rush University Medical Center, “With the NLST positive trial result, we have the opportunity to realize the greatest single reduction of cancer mortality in the history of the war on cancer.”

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek

You can also reach Andrea on twitter as @findlungcancer

~CancerGeek

#PtExp #PX #cancer #hcldr #hccosts #hcsm #stories #storytelling #lcsm #bcsm #hcmktg #mktg #storyteller #hcpt #consumerism #hcbiz #CX #UX
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