Moffitt Cancer Center seeks federal funding for a mobile unit to improve lung cancer screening rates, especially for marginalized communities, aiming for operational status by early 2024.

In 2018, a Chattanooga hospital introduced a refurbished bus equipped with an X-ray body scanner to provide mobile lung cancer screenings across Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. This approach is now being adopted by Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, which seeks federal funding to launch its mobile unit by early 2024. These mobile screenings target marginalized and underinsured communities and aim to improve early-stage cancer diagnosis rates, which currently stand at less than 25%, compared to nearly 50% for late-stage diagnosis. This is particularly important for Black, Latino, and Indigenous Americans, who have lower rates of early diagnosis and treatment.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual screenings for at-risk individuals, but participation is low, partly due to a lack of public awareness. Lung cancer screening technology is relatively new compared to breast and colorectal screenings, and access issues are more pronounced in communities with poor cancer outcomes. Research shows that people of color are less likely to be screened for cancer, highlighting the need for increased access and awareness. Moffitt’s thoracic oncology chair, Jhanelle Gray, emphasized that the focus should be on providing access rather than gathering more data on access issues.

Moffitt Cancer Center is advocating for the introduction of a mobile screening unit to increase lung cancer screening rates. The project, estimated to cost $2 million, will be proposed for federal Community Project Funding, with hopes of receiving congressional approval by late this year or early 2023. In line with President Biden’s cancer moonshot initiative, which aims to halve cancer death rates in 25 years, Gray stresses the need for equity in healthcare and the creation of infrastructure to fulfill promises made to patients.

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