It’s a bold initiative.

Launched in late 2021, the End Lung Cancer Now initiative, based at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, seeks to do just that: end lung cancer — now.

Although bold, it’s doable.

It’s bold because we have our work cut out for us as lung cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer-related death in men and women — by far. Each year, lung cancer kills more people than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer combined — the second-, third-, and fourth-leading cancer killers.

Yet, it wasn’t that long ago that lung cancer was a rare diagnosis. It was only in the beginning of the second half of the 20th Century that people were increasingly diagnosed with the disease because of the dramatic rise in cigarette consumption. During that time, there were few effective therapies for lung cancer and no way to screen for it.

Times have changed. As the result of efforts by advocates and public health officials, cigarette smoking has significantly declined in the past 25 years. In the last decade, screening CT lung scans have proven to reduce the mortality due to lung cancer. Unfortunately, too few eligible people are getting their screening scans. Once again, advocates and public health officials have their work cut out for them.

It’s doable to make lung cancer a rare diagnosis again. End Lung Cancer Now seeks to do this through its mission to:

  • Educate and empower advocates to eliminate tobacco use in Indiana. We can reduce the incidence of lung cancer by 90% in the next 20 years by dramatically reducing cigarette smoking.
  • Screen all eligible patients with chest CT scans. We can reduce lung cancer mortality by 20% right now by maximizing screening CT scans. Only 5% to 7% of all eligible people for lung cancer screening scans are getting them. Through the work of advocates, we plan to change that. 
  • Increase participation in lung cancer studies. We can accelerate therapeutic progress by increasing enrollment in clinical studies, as only 5% to 10% of people with lung cancer participate in research studies. Specifically, our goal is to educate the public about the benefits of research studies by increasing awareness about recent advances, dispelling myths about research studies, and reducing barriers to participation in research studies, especially among under-represented populations.  

I’ve witnessed a lot of suffering over the years, which motivates me to do something about it. Taking care of patients is very fulfilling, as is doing research. However, I love advocacy work and End Lung Cancer Now is all about advocacy — advocating for clinical study participation, smoking cessation, increasing CT screening uptake, and supporting those with lung cancer, their families, and caregivers.

Awareness of lung cancer and its associated stigma contribute to ongoing challenges for patients. While support services exist, coordination is often lacking. Another key goal is to create a network of survivors and caregivers to adequately support patients, reduce existing stigmas, and promote lung cancer awareness.

We will activate, educate, and energize advocates to work on awareness campaigns and fundraising, and we will integrate our efforts into existing tobacco cessation and screening programs within the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and around the state.

Being an End Lung Cancer Now advocate means you’re motivated to make an impact on lung cancer. It means you’re interested in participating in or leading awareness campaigns. Perhaps you’re interested in fundraising for research. Perhaps you’re interested in working with tobacco control programs or screening CT programs. Or perhaps you’re interested in activities meant to support lung cancer survivors.

Yes, it’s bold, but together we can do it. Join End Lung Cancer Now by becoming an advocate. Want to learn more? Visit endlungcancernow.iu.edu or drop us an email at elcn@iu.edu. We welcome your ideas, perspectives, and talent.

Nasser Hanna, M.D. is the Tom and Julie Wood Family Foundation Professor of Lung Cancer Clinical Research and a Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Hanna is also a Physician-scientist at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. Hanna serves as the Founder & Chair of End Lung Cancer Now.

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