MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – LUCAS, a first of its kind, state-of-the-art mobile lung cancer screening unit, performed its first screening on Sept. 14, 2021. A commemorative celebration of the day was held yesterday (Sept. 12) at the WVU Medicine outpatient center at University Town Centre, where the mobile unit is parked when it’s not on the road.
In its inaugural year of operation, LUCAS, a service of WVU Medicine-WVU Hospitals and the WVU Cancer Institute, traveled to 22 West Virginia counties, provided more than 800 lung cancer screenings, and found seven cases of lung cancer through low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans.
“The LUCAS program is one of the ways we fulfill our mission and vision of improving the health of West Virginians and all we serve, transforming lives, and eliminating health disparities,” Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, said. “For the 42 of West Virginia’s 55 counties that do not have immediate access to lung cancer screening services, LUCAS has the potential to be a lifesaver, and there’s nothing in healthcare more rewarding than saving a life.”
As the only fully mobile, artificial-intelligence-powered CT unit for low-dose lung cancer screening in the nation, LUCAS has garnered wide-spread attention from healthcare organizations across the U.S. and in Europe seeking to replicate similar programs in their own communities.
“The primary objective of LUCAS was to improve access to life-saving lung cancer screening in our state,” Hannah Hazard-Jenkins, M.D., director of the WVU Cancer Institute, Jean and Laurence DeLynn Chair of Oncology, and associate professor of surgery at the WVU School of Medicine, said. “We know it is the number one cause of cancer death in our state, and most patients diagnosed with lung cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage when it is less curable. We know we must change that narrative of cancer care in the state. Having national and international attention is a byproduct of our intentions, one that I hope will help other communities struggling with access to care and thus continue to impact lung cancer outcomes.”
The WVU Cancer Institute Mobile Screening Program received the 2022 Mobile Clinic Innovation Award at the National Mobile Healthcare Association meeting in Phoenix in August and was accepted into the inaugural Mobile Healthcare Innovation Collaborative, a project of Harvard Medical Schools’ Mobile Health Map and the Mobile Healthcare Association working to explore best practices around measuring and communicating mobile program impact.
Leaders from the Program have also been invited to share their expertise at upcoming events, including the 2022 National Lung Cancer Roundtable Annual Meeting in December in Washington, D.C., and the Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress in April 2023 in Texas.
“LUCAS takes lung cancer screening to people in areas of our state who are limited in their access to healthcare. Our hope is that this will begin to raise awareness of the importance of lung cancer screening and start to shift diagnosis to an earlier stage thereby improving lung cancer survival in our state,” Dr. Hazard-Jenkins said. “Lung cancer screening, whether it is on LUCAS or at a stationary site, is essential to improving the quality of life and outcomes of people diagnosed with lung cancer.”
With 34 more screening events scheduled before the end of the year, the LUCAS team is well on its way to increasing the number of screenings provided to residents in year two of the program.