Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer in the U.S., killing more people each year than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers combined. In 2021, experts predict that lung cancer will cause over 131,000 deaths in the U.S. As with any form of cancer, early detection is the key to survival, and screening for the disease with computed tomography (CT) has been demonstrated to reduce lung cancer mortality.

In an effort to improve lung cancer detection in high-risk populations, Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute, in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Samsung, Frazer, and Winnebago, designed and launched the nation’s first mobile lung unit with a CT scanner in 2017. The handicapped accessible unit, which has since received generous support from The Leon Levine Foundation, is the first-of-its-kind to link rural populations to free lung cancer screenings, education, and support programs, serving over 1,000 patients annually.

Photo taken prior to the coronavirus pandemic and may not reflect current health and safety policies.

Due to the overwhelming success of the Lung B.A.S.E.S. (Bringing Awareness, Screening & Education to improve Survivorship) 4 Life program and the increasing demand for screenings of high-risk patients, Levine Cancer Institute launched a second mobile unit in 2020. Levine Cancer Institute’s Disparities and Outreach team has deployed the new mobile lung unit to conduct targeted research for at-risk populations that may need screening but do not qualify under current national guidelines, such as those with high occupational risk or those individuals demonstrating high smoking rates but falling under the current recommended screening age of 55.

Levine Cancer Institute continues to expand its outreach, now serving 23 counties with its mobile lung units. In October, the program achieved another milestone, offering its first screening event in South Carolina. During the event, 18 individuals received CT screenings and lung health education, of which half also enrolled in the smoking cessation program.

Through charitable contributions to the Lung B.A.S.E.S. 4 Life program, Atrium Health will continue to improve access to lung cancer screenings and education in rural communities across the Carolinas. To learn how you can support Lung B.A.S.E.S. 4 Life, contact Leslie.Sykes@atriumhealth.org.