Lung cancer screening in all corners of West Virginia

Erica Childs Warner

As I stood next to the 48-foot-long Lung Cancer Screening Unit (LUCAS), the idea of the unit reaching rural West Virginians on narrow, back roads was suddenly even more impressive. I spent a cold December day last year with the team at West Virginia University (WVU) and learned about how they meet people in need of lung cancer screening across the state with this state-of-the art mobile unit. The team’s enthusiasm and commitment were evident as they described their efforts to screen 600 patients in the next year in partnership with more than a hundred community clinics. 

As director of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s community grants program, it is always gratifying to visit our partner organizations and learn more about what’s being done in communities across the U.S. to help people access cancer prevention and early detection information and services. The WVU Cancer Institute’s Mobile Lung Cancer Screening Unit (LUCAS) project hit the road last September after being awarded a 2021 community grant from the Foundation. With the support of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the project aims to screen at least 130 uninsured and underinsured West Virginia residents for lung cancer according to U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce (USPSTF) guidelines. The LUCAS program removes financial and structural barriers to screening that exist in rural West Virginia and provides navigation services for patients who need follow-up and/or are diagnosed with lung cancer. 

The need is great in West Virginia for increased lung cancer awareness and screening. Based on eligibility guidelines and demographics, there are approximately 120,000 unscreened West Virginians. No eligible West Virginian is turned away from receiving a screening on LUCAS—the program accepts multiple types of insurance and works with donors to cover patients who are uninsured or underinsured. 

LUCAS and its impact are being seen beyond the streets of West Virginia. On the day of my visit, I was joined by the organizers of Awesome Games Done Quick, an annual live-streamed video game marathon benefiting the Prevent Cancer Foundation. They filmed and produced this video and shared it with their community of gamers this past January during their annual marathon raising funds for the Foundation. LUCAS is a prime example of what Games Done Quick donors—and all Foundation supporters—make possible with their generous contributions. Together, we are making a difference in the lives of real people, today. 

It was a wonderful opportunity to tour the LUCAS unit in West Virginia and know that the Prevent Cancer Foundation supports innovative and inclusive approaches to cancer screenings.