Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute, in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Samsung and Frazer, designed and created the nation’s first mobile lung unit with a computed tomography scanner.
CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 22, 2017 – Levine Cancer Institute today launched the first mobile lung computed tomography (CT) unit designed to address lung cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival disparities for rural populations across the Carolinas. The mobile lung unit is the first-of-its-kind to link rural populations to lung cancer education and treatment interventions through integrated mobile technology, traditional treatment facilities and medical staff.
Financial barriers and a lack of public transportation are barriers to regular cancer screenings, which are proven essential to early diagnosis, intervention and improved survival. By traveling to where these at-risk patient populations live and providing lung cancer screenings for them, the unit will provide better access to diagnose and care for underserved and uninsured populations.
“This unique vehicle visibly demonstrates our commitment to removing barriers to care that exist in many of the communities served by Levine Cancer Institute,” said Derek Raghavan, MD, president of Levine Cancer Institute. “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 age and will have access to a broad array of support and treatments.”
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States, taking more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. The creation of the mobile screening unit will help reverse this trend by eliminating financial and resource barriers. Participants will be screened in their community, each receiving detailed information regarding any follow up process along with contact information to resources such as a program coordinator or navigator for any questions.
Increasing awareness about the impact of smoking and healthy lifestyles is another key component that could lead to earlier intervention and effective treatment for high-risk patients thus reducing the number of stage III and IV diagnoses.
Features of the unit include:
- A built in portable, low dose CT scanner that can develop high quality images for soft tissue and bone for accurate diagnosis
- Wireless connection for fast and easy image transfers
- The utilization of low power consumption
- Meets the technical requirements for the American College of Radiology (ACR) screening designation
- Handicapped accessible
- Two iPads with education on smoking cessation and other healthy lifestyle information
In addition to the mobile unit, the grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation provides funding for a comprehensive education, navigation and clinical intervention program, known as the Lung B.A.S.E.S. 4 Life program.
“It is our believe 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, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb 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 is identified to have lung cancer the program then provides them with comprehensive education, clinical intervention, and patient navigators, who are nurses that assist patients through the network of cancer-treatment decisions and fears. Individuals requiring biopsy or other interventions will receive treatment with Levine Cancer Institute or a Carolinas HealthCare System facility regardless of 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 Cancer Institute (shown left). “Access to optimal screening is paramount to early detection, intervention and survival for those at high risk for contracting the deadly disease.”
Levine Cancer Institute is committed to improving the overall health and wellbeing of its communities through high quality patient care, education and research programs, and numerous collaborative partnerships and initiatives. Providing seamless access to coordinated, high-quality healthcare close to where patients live is fundamental to the mission of the organization.