Saturday Scans Strengthen Lung Cancer Screening

ARRS and 11 other medical imaging organizations are collaborating on the Radiology Health Equity Coalition (RHEC) to curate and disseminate trusted resources and best practices for improving access and utilization of preventative and diagnostic imaging.  

A decade has passed since the United States Preventive Services Task Force’s first recommendation of low-dose CT (LDCT) for lung cancer screening (LCS). And yet, national LCS rates still remain worrying low: fewer than 1 in 10 Americans eligible for LDCT actually undergo annual screening. Compared with more established screening examinations for other cancers—about 67% for mammographic screening, 69% for colorectal screening, and 74% for cervical screening—LCS’ less than 10% looks even lower.

The President’s Cancer Panel points to LCS as the single most effective strategy for reducing mortality from the disease, as well as for helping to close the healthy equity gap with improved access to care. Of course, for rural and racial/ethnic minority cohorts, access to and utilization of LCS has proven particularly tough. Not only are rural and minority populations more likely to live more than half an hour away from a designated screening center, all too often, these patients are also underinsured and suffer from lower levels of health literacy.

That said, low usage rates for LCS do present a unique opportunity for radiologists and allied medical professionals at every step of the imaging encounter to work together with patient and caregiver advocates, community health organizations, cancer centers, and insurers to enhance accessibility for lifesaving and effective LDCT.  

Screening on Saturday?  

Although advances in modalities and innovations of technique have leveled the field, perhaps the most persistent barrier to screening is scheduling. What is the patient’s availability? When is the appointment?

Worldwide, lung cancer continues to claim the highest mortality rate, with socioeconomically disadvantaged populations having the highest incidence rates. Despite having nearly identical medical leave needs, workers taking home less than $15 an hour have the least access to paid leave and eligibility for Family Medical Leave Act protections. More commonly, low-wage workers face adverse working conditions and financial consequences from taking whatever leave they do have. Nevertheless, most proper screening centers operate on a typical Monday through Friday schedule. Said operating hours afford little opportunity for patients with the greatest need to schedule and attend necessary screening appointments.

On Saturday, November 11, 2023, ARRS and partner societies of the Radiology Health Equity Coalition (RHEC) will collaborate with the American Cancer Society’s National Lung Cancer Roundtable for the second annual National Lung Cancer Screening Day. A key date during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, National LCS Day encourages facilities to keep open their doors on the second Saturday in November, specifically for LDCT lung screening. In addition to raising awareness for early detection of lung cancer at large, Saturday screening allows those individuals who have already been referred for LDCT to get scanned—without having to take a day off of work, themselves.

Curious if your practice or department is able to support this year’s National LCS Day on the 11th of November? There are some questions you will need to answer, first and foremost:  

  • Talk to your supervisor or chairperson. Discuss among colleagues. You’ll need approval and allocation for the additional screening, including a CT technologist for each LCS unit.
    • Perhaps there’s only a timeframe you’re able to offer LCS: morning only, afternoon only, late morning/early afternoon?
  • Inform scheduling staff your facility will be opening on November 11, so they can offer patients that Saturday option
    • Confirm with IT that scheduling system is open for booking appointments
  • Marketing & Communications
    • Ask your marketing department to promote the event: press release, social media, etc.

Should your practice or department find all the necessary resources to scan on Saturday, here are some day-of tips to consider that will help you have a successful screening:  

  • Again, ensure your National LCS Day event is staffed accordingly
    • CT Tech—double-check!
    • Registration
    • Maintenance and housekeeping
    • Security
  • Refreshments (if allowed)
    • Coffee and donuts for Saturday morning
    • Snacks and drinks for Saturday afternoon
  • Marketing & Communications
    • Invite PR representative to take pictures and interview patients on Saturday

National LCS Day is intended to serve as a catalyst for year-round screening awareness efforts, of course. Rather than waiting until the second Saturday in November to work screening into their routine, patients and clinicians alike are encouraged to make accessible LCS a year-round priority.

Finally, acknowledging that National LCS Day falls on the Veterans Day holiday, RHEC is pleased to be working alongside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to increase outreach and awareness to our military population, in turn saving more lives.

The opinions expressed on RadTeams are those of the author(s); they do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or position of the editors, reviewers, or publisher.