UAMS Lung Cancer Screening Program Teams up with MammoVan

By Susan Van Dusen

Now, as the mobile mammography unit rolls across the state, it also will offer patients in designated counties the chance to schedule another important screening — lung cancer.

Thanks to a $50,475 grant from the Arkansas Cancer Coalition, a trained educator, Chaunacy McRae, will travel aboard the MammoVan to 16 or more counties providing tobacco cessation support and education. Long-time smokers who qualify will be scheduled for low-dose CT scans at UAMS to screen for lung cancer.

“Low-dose CT screenings can detect lung cancer in its early stages and have been shown to reduce lung cancer deaths by 20%. Unfortunately, many people don’t know that lung cancer screenings are available, or they are not offered in their area. We’re hoping to spread the word and offer this valuable service for more Arkansans,” said Patricia Franklin, grant recipient and advanced practice registered nurse in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 2,760 Arkansans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020. Those diagnosed at an early stage are five times more likely to survive. However, almost half of lung cancers in Arkansas are found in a late stage, limiting treatment options and survival rates.

Although most insurance carriers cover lung cancer screening at no cost, patients must meet a strict set of qualifications, be between 55-77 years of age and have a 30-pack a year smoking history, which is the equivalent of one pack per day for 30 years.

During fiscal year 2019, a total of 562 patients underwent low-dose CT lung cancer screenings at UAMS. Fifteen lung cancers were diagnosed, with the patients referred to the UAMS Lung Cancer Team for treatment. Of patients screened, 85% lived within a 50-mile radius of UAMS’ main campus in Little Rock.

“After discovering that almost all of our screening patients live in or near Little Rock, we realized we need to reach patients in underserved parts of the state. That’s when we developed the idea of partnering with the MammoVan,” said Franklin, who also is a certified tobacco treatment specialist.

A full-service mammographic facility on wheels, the MammoVan first hit the road in February 2010. Since then, it has logged more than 200,000 miles and screened about 20,000 women from every corner of the state. Of those screened, 115 were found to have breast cancer.

Gwendolyn Bryant-Smith, M.D., is director of the UAMS Breast Center and Mobile Mammography Program, as well as division director of UAMS Breast Imaging.

“Women across Arkansas rely on the MammoVan to provide convenient breast cancer screenings in their own hometown. It’s only natural that we would partner with the Lung Cancer Program to ensure Arkansans also get the support they need to quit smoking and reduce their lung cancer risk,” Bryant-Smith said.

In addition to providing education and support on how to quit smoking, McRae will schedule screening appointments, assist in arranging for transportation to UAMS and follow up with patients.

“By working with the MammoVan, we have a unique opportunity to reach rural Arkansans in their own communities and ensure this valuable service is available to those who need it,” Franklin said.

For information about the UAMS Lung Cancer Screening Program, call (501) 944-5934 or the MammoVan, call (800) 259-8794.