Terminate Lung Cancer Campaign Increases Awareness of LDCT Cancer Screenings in Eastern Kentucky

photo of doctor in white coat
photo of doctor in white coat

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 8, 2016) — Recent national guidelines recommend patients with a 30-pack-year smoking history receive a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan for early lung cancer detection.

Kentuckians, who experience the highest rates of lung cancer in the nation, stand to benefit from the new LDCT lung cancer screening guidelines. Early detection through LDCT screening reduces lung cancer mortality by 20 percent. But limited knowledge or awareness about the benefits of early LDCT screenings prevents high-risk populations from receiving the procedure.

Researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine and UK College of Public Health developed a community awareness campaign designed to promote LDCT uptake in two high-need Eastern Kentucky regions. The Terminate Lung Cancer (TLC) campaign was a population-based approach to educating patients and local healthcare providers about early cancer detection through LDCT. The researchers found disseminating information about LDCT benefits in Eastern Kentucky directly to patients and providers increased uptake of LDCT and prompted individuals to consider quitting tobacco use. The interdisciplinary team recently published their findings in Cancer Epidemiology.

“It can take several years before screening guidelines reach the people who need these health services the most,” said Dr. Roberto Cardarelli, principal investigator and chief of the Division of Community Medicine at UK. “We wanted to know whether a population-based campaign that emphasized community engagement would reduce a knowledge gap limiting patients from receiving screening and detecting cancer early. Our results support this approach, showing an effective strategy for addressing the knowledge gap about LDCT in high-risk populations.”

The TLC campaign was founded on community-based approaches to health promotion, aligning efforts with community health workers, local health agencies and regional hospitals. The researchers conducted focus group interviews with residents and disseminated newspaper advertisements and postcards encouraging individuals to discuss early lung cancer detection with their health provider to more than 54,000 residents. Health providers in the experimental regions received material outlining new LDCT guidelines and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s decision to include LDCT in coverage.

Focus group interviews revealed Eastern Kentuckians valued personal testimony messaging and visual depictions of lung cancer survivorship. The interviews showed Eastern Kentuckians relied on information about cancer screenings from their health care provider, as well as friends and family. To analyze the impact of the campaign, researchers also collected survey data and records from three partner hospitals to analyze changes in behaviors and monthly totals of chest LDCT for malignancies. The populations receiving campaign exposure and materials reported higher uptake and awareness of LDCT than the control region population.

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