April 2019

Screening matters.

It is well-documented that early detection of cancer leads to improved survival rates. Based on recent data, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported a breast cancer relative five-year survival rate of 91%. However, when breast cancer is detected early and is in the localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 99-100%.

From 1989 to 2016, as mammograms became better utilized, breast cancer mortality decreased by 40 percent (preventing more than 340,000 deaths). A majority of American women now receive mammograms.

Approximately 8,000,000 people living in the United States are eligible for annual low-dose CT screening for lung cancer. According to a cross-sectional study reported in a press briefing held before the 2018 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, less than 4% of those that are eligible have been screened for lung cancer.

Based on the landmark National Lung Screening Trial results in 2011, in 2013 the USPSTF recommended annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

According to the American College of Radiology, the NELSON Study, presented at the 2018 IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer, showed that annual lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography in high-risk patients reduced lung cancer deaths by 26 percent in men and up to 61 percent in women (up to a 44 percent reduction overall if male and female cohorts were evenly split). Given that ACS predicts 142,670 lung cancer deaths in the US in 2019, widespread screening could save more than 60,000 American lives each year.

A Breath of Hope and partners are hosting an event for healthcare providers in September 2019. If you are a provider concerned about getting more Minnesotans screened for lung cancer, email us to learn more about the MN Lung Cancer Screening Task Force.


Research matters.

Clinical trials are experiments or observations done in clinical research. Prospective biomedical or behavioral research studies on human participants are designed to answer specific questions about biomedical or behavioral interventions, including new treatments (such as novel vaccines, drugs, dietary choices, dietary supplements and medical devices) and known interventions that need further study and comparison. Clinical trials generate data on safety and efficacy. They are conducted only after they have received health authority/ethics committee approval in the country where approval of the therapy is sought. These authorities are responsible for vetting the risk and benefits of the trial – their approval does not mean that the therapy is ‘safe’ or effective, only that the trial may be conducted.

There are two goals to testing medical treatments: to learn whether they work well enough, called “efficacy” or “effectiveness”; and to learn whether they are safe enough, called “safety”. Both safety and efficacy are evaluated relative to how the treatment is intended to be used, what other treatments are available, and the severity of the disease or condition. The benefits must outweigh the risks. For example, many drugs to treat cancer have severe side effects that would not be acceptable for an over-the-counter pain medication, yet the cancer drugs have been approved since they are used under a physician’s care and are used for a life-threatening condition.

Katherine Bensen, a stage 4 lung cancer survivor, is participating in a clinical trial and has graciously agreed to document her journey and the ups and downs of cancer treatments. Follow her story on the ABOH Blog. Research matters. Clinical trials matter. Learn more or find a trial near you.


Community matters.

There are many benefits and good reasons to get involved with a community like ours. If you are someone that has been personally affected by lung cancer, you should know that public perception isn’t always accurate about this cancer, and there are many disparities between lung and other cancers. We can expect better outcomes for all stakeholders when decision-makers hear personal stories and perceptions that are founded in real experience. Your opinion matters, and it may lead to real change if it has a chance to be aired. First-hand experience shared with others who have had similar experiences will lead to a stronger, better heard voice for change.

Another benefit of getting involved? It can lead to healing and peace. It feels good to know you are making a difference and spend time with others who share your priorities. With this in mind, ABOH invites you and your family and friends to join us at an A Breath of Hope event (or multiple events) this year. Together we are building a movement that will create change that saves lives. Event proceeds and your gifts fund U.S. research and education.

June 7 – ABOH Golf Classic at Deer Run Golf Club, Victoria, MN

August 10 – ABOH Lung Run/Walk Twin Cities, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

November 2 – Midwest Lung Cancer Summit for patients and caregivers, Marriott Hotel, Bloomington, MN

November 15 – ABOH Shining Bright Gala, Aria, Minneapolis, MN