LUNGevity Foundation, a lung cancer-focused nonprofit organization, has launched an Early Lung Cancer Center (ELCC) to accelerate the development and broad adoption of early detection and treatment options so people diagnosed with lung cancer have the best chance for long-term survival and a better quality of life.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and the global burden of lung cancer is expected to continue to grow over the next 20 years. Approximately 80% of patients are diagnosed in the late stage when the disease has progressed and mortality is high. By shifting most diagnosed cases earlier, survival and quality of life are improved. After decades of research, advances in therapeutics and detection methods are simultaneously enabling dramatically improved survival outcomes for people diagnosed with lung cancer. The ELCC aims to help accelerate this progress.

“The LUNGevity Early Lung Cancer Center is a multifaceted effort to improve lung cancer survival by making early detection and early disease management the norm. We are looking forward to working with our center’s external advisory board, partners, and stakeholders to improve rates of lung cancer screening, establish and standardize incidental nodule programs, and leverage emerging technologies and research for the early detection and treatment of lung cancer,” says Leah Fine, vice president of the LUNGevity Early Lung Cancer Center, in a release.

Key opportunities for the ELCC include:

  • Screening—Only 6% of the eligible population in the US is being screened for lung cancer. The ELCC will utilize policy initiatives, patient-focused research, and educational programs to increase the uptake of lung cancer screenings.
  • Incidental pulmonary nodules (IPN)—Nearly five million people have chest CT imaging (not for lung cancer screening) in the US, with close to 40% of scans showing an incidental finding. Appropriate follow-up for these patients occurs just 30% of the time. The ELCC will work with health systems and researchers to implement and standardize IPN workflows for follow-up care for these patients.
  • Early-stage therapeutics—The ELCC will ensure that patients have access to recently approved therapies by working through legislative policy and healthcare provider education.
  • Emerging technologies—The ELCC is supportive of the development of new technologies, such as blood-based cancer detection tests or artificial intelligence for radiology, that, when proven, can expand access and work in tandem with existing protocols to detect lung cancer earlier.
  • The ELCC’s external advisory board is composed of key opinion leaders to help guide and drive the transformation of lung cancer to a disease that is diagnosed and treated in the early stages when it is the most curable.

“Early detection is key to improving lung cancer mortality,” says Nabil Chehab, medical franchise head of lung cancer at AstraZeneca, in a release. “Diagnosing the disease at the earliest stage is core to our ambition. Supporting LUNGevity Foundation is another important step in advancing our mission to eliminate cancer as a cause of death.”