(Memphis, TN)—November 2, 2016 — A new initiative to help get current and former smokers screened for lung cancer is launching locally in Memphis. The local program is part of a three-year project overseen by the American Cancer Society, Christ Community Health Services, a federally qualified health center (FQHC), and West Cancer Center to develop and implement a high quality lung cancer screening and navigation program for patients facing obstacles to care. It is supported by a $1.25 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Bridging Cancer CareTM initiative, which focuses on pilot projects in select southeastern U.S. states with the highest lung cancer burden.

The initiative will be implemented by Christ Community Health Services at their Orange Mound location. West Cancer Center is partnering in the effort to provide screening, navigation and treatment.

Lung cancer accounts for 27% of all cancer deaths and remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Several years ago, the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial demonstrated that low- dose computed tomography (CT) could reduce lung cancer death among current and former smokers between ages 55 and 74 years with a 30-pack year history of smoking. Despite that fact, screening rates remain low.

The goal of this partnership is to develop effective policies and practices that support the availability of high-quality lung cancer screening; navigation to follow-up, and tobacco cessation counseling to high- risk individuals facing barriers to care.

“People struggling financially are far less likely to get screened and realize the benefit of this technology,” said Dr. Robert Smith, Vice President of Cancer Screening at the American Cancer Society. “With this new program, the American Cancer Society will work with Christ Community Health Services and West Cancer Center to develop a full-circle system to identify patients who are eligible for screening, develop tailored information and resource coordination, and help them navigate through the screening process.” The program will also include navigation for patient follow-up visits, and provide support for patients who require diagnostic and treatment services.

“This partnership between West Cancer Center, Christ Community Health Services and the American Cancer Society provides the mobilization necessary to have a huge impact on the health of our community,” said Kurt Tauer, MD, FACP, Chief of Staff at West Cancer Center. “Providing access to screening is one thing; but identifying those partners in the community willing to come together and truly support the implementation, navigation and management of this program is absolutely critical. With American Cancer Society and Christ Community Health Services, we are going to make a big difference.”

“We are excited to have this opportunity to improve our patient’s health both in early detection of lung cancer and also in prevention of lung cancer by helping our patients to stop smoking,” said Dr. Daniel Pike of Christ Community Health Center Orange Mound.

“Although the American Cancer Society and others recommend screening for high-risk current and former smokers, providing high quality lung cancer screening and navigation remains an important and immediate challenge,” added Dr. Smith. “This pilot program will not only bring screening to those who are eligible, it will also help us develop tools and resources to meet this new opportunity to reduce deaths from lung cancer based on real-world experience.”

People interested in learning more can contact Christ Community’s Orange Mound facility at 901-701- 2550.