Washington, D.C. – November 1, 2018 –Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) today announced a $1.6M grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to partner with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center to establish the Alabama Lung Cancer Awareness, Screening and Education (ALCASE) program.

The three-year effort will focus on decreasing lung cancer disparities in underserved, primarily African-American counties in Alabama through community-based education and awareness initiatives. At the same time, the program will increase capacity and access to responsible lung cancer screening in a continuum of care, as well as provide necessary support and services for those diagnosed.

“Lung Cancer Alliance is excited to be working with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center on this important effort,” said Maureen Rigney, LICSW, Director of Support Initiatives, Lung Cancer Alliance. “We recognize the great burden of lung cancer in an area with limited resources and are committed to working with partners at the state level to establish a sustainable infrastructure to improve access to life-saving screening and high-quality care where it is critically needed.”

ALCASE combines Lung Cancer Alliance’s expertise in lung cancer screening and care along with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Deep South Network for Cancer Control’s (DSN) Community Health Advisor (CHA) Model. The CHA model is a community-based health promotion approach that identifies and trains ‘natural helpers’ who then seek to improve the health status of individuals and the community at large. For over 20 years, DSN has deployed CHAs in breast, cervical and colon cancers. ALCASE expands the use of these community leaders to lung cancer.

“As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Deep South, UAB has an obligation to address our region’s cancer burden,” said Michael J. Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “There is a great lack of awareness about the potential benefits of screenings and, for many, a reluctance to engage in the screening process. We hope using the successful CHA model will help improve screening rates among these at-risk individuals.”

Lung cancer screening with a low-dose computed tomography (also known as low-dose CT or LDCT) scan is the only current, proven method that can detect lung cancer earlier, before symptoms occur, when it is more treatable and potentially curable. Screening is recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and is an approved essential health benefit covered through Medicare and most private insurers. Currently, only four percent of individuals at risk for the disease nationally are screened for lung cancer each year.

“We are proud to partner with Lung Cancer Alliance and the University of Alabama on this important initiative, which will increase low-dose CT scan capacity and provide outreach education on lung cancer screening to rural populations living in the Black Belt region of Alabama, which has some of the shortest life expectancies and highest lung cancer incidence in the country,” said John Damonti, President of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

For additional information about the ALCASE program, please contact Maureen Rigney at mrigney@go2foundation.org.