There's Power in Numbers: Grassroots Advocacy for Early Lung Cancer Detection

Grassroots advocacy efforts laid the groundwork for early detection of lung cancer.
LAURIE FENTON AMBROSE
PUBLISHED: NOVEMBER 19, 2016
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People often wonder: How does anything ever get done in Washington, D.C.?

The truth is, victories can happen when the right strategy, timing and intent all align. This is the case for lung cancer — a stigmatized disease that has been the number-one cancer killer for decades.

Fortunately, screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT (LDCT) has become the most widely acknowledged method for finding and detecting the disease at an early, curable stage. This screening is recommended under medical guidelines, and is covered either through private insurance plans or Medicare for people between the ages of 55 and 80 who have a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (years smoked multiplied by the number of packs per day), currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years.

This opportunity for intervention is an enormous life-saving achievement, but it did not happen overnight. It took over a decade of effort by determined patient advocates and committed medical professionals willing to make lung cancer screening a core public health priority.

Since its relocation to D.C. in 2004, Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) has led efforts to establish a voice for a hidden community of tens of millions of people who are either living with or at risk for this disease, and to collaborate with like-minded health care partners to establish a grassroots movement for advocacy efforts. LCA looked strategically at federal health policies and began advocating for a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing all aspects of lung cancer. LCA made the case that, to reduce lung cancer’s mortality, early detection and research must be linked to prevention efforts in a “continuum of care.” Throughout this process, LCA forged new alliances with public health interests, associations and organizations to shine a brighter light on lung cancer.



Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Lung Cancer CURE discussion group.
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