WVU Cancer Institute Takes Lung Cancer Screening Mobile with LUCAS Program
// By Althea Fung //
In a rural state with the highest smoking rates in the country, lung cancer screening is a critical need. WVU Cancer Institute built on its legacy of finding new ways to serve remote areas and offer patient education.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in West Virginia, with more deaths each year than breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers combined. According to the 2019 West Virginia Cancer Burden Report, lung cancer accounts for 18 percent of all new cancer diagnoses in the state. Only 22 percent of those receiving a lung cancer diagnosis are local before the cancer has spread. Half of West Virginians receiving a lung cancer diagnosis have distant metastasis.
Many West Virginians don’t have access to preventive screening services in their local area. Seeing the community’s need throughout the state, WVU Cancer Institute and WVU Medicine embarked on a mission to create a fully mobile lung cancer screening unit that would travel across the state.
“We have one of the highest smoking rates in the country; it made sense to go after this,” says Jenny Ostien, director of the Mobile Cancer Screening Program at WVU Cancer Institute. “We have the only mobile screening program that travels the entire state, and this will allow us to get into very rural areas and help eliminate transportation and location barriers to access for our residents.”
LUCAS — an acronym for lung cancer screening — is a mobile artificial-intelligence-powered CT unit for low-dose lung cancer screening, servicing 42 out of 55 counties in West Virginia without easy access to lung cancer screening services. Equipped with a generator, the unit is the industry’s first continuously powered, fully mobile screening unit.
Here is the story of how one health system crafted a solution to a pressing community need.