Veracyte Inc has partnered with the Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) on a campaign designed to increase lung cancer screening among high-risk people in North Carolina.

The program, Screen Together, encourages people who meet criteria for annual screening — those aged 55 to 74 who are current or previous smokers — to commit with a friend or relative to getting screened for the disease, which kills more than 155,000 people each year in the United States.

Through awareness activities, Screen Together aims to reach at-risk individuals where they live, work and play and inspire them to take charge of their health with the support of a friend, neighbor, colleague or family member and pledge to get screened for lung cancer at .

“Lung cancer is a treatable disease, provided it is caught early,” said Bonnie Anderson, Veracyte’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We are proud to partner with LCI on this pilot campaign, which reflects our commitment to improving outcomes for patients at risk of lung cancer. If successful, we plan to extend the campaign’s reach to other regions of the country to encourage screening among everyone who meets the criteria, and have a broader impact in the fight against this deadly disease.”

“We are pleased to partner with Veracyte on the Screen Together program to help ensure better outcomes for people in North Carolina who are at increased risk for developing lung cancer,” said Jennifer Garst, MD, board chair of Lung Cancer Initiative and professor of medicine in the Duke Thoracic Oncology Program. “Our hope is to remove some of the fear and anxiety that can accompany the cancer screening process by encouraging people to take the pledge to get screened together with a partner, colleague, family member or friend.”

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States – more than the next three leading cancers combined. Early detection through CT screening can dramatically reduce deaths by detecting the cancer early, when it is most treatable. Annual CT screening is now covered by Medicare and most private insurance companies for the 8.6 million Americans who are at increased risk of lung cancer.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to help improve care for people at high risk of lung cancer – both as part of screening and ultimately at other points in the lung cancer continuum,” said Ms. Anderson. “This includes our Percepta Bronchial Genomic Classifier, which helps reduce unnecessary diagnostic surgeries when suspicious nodules are found on CT scans. We also envision some day taking the same genomic technology upon which the Percepta test is based and through a simple nasal swab, determine a patient’s risk of lung cancer. The opportunities to have an impact in alleviating the suffering from lung cancer are tremendous and we are excited about what the future holds.”