What Are the Noted Disparities in Lung Cancer Screening and Access?
What Are the Noted Disparities in Lung Cancer Screening and Access? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.
What are some lung cancer disparities in the U.S.? Dr. Lecia Sequist shares insight about disparities in lung cancer screening and care, some causes of the disparities, and ways that advocacy groups are trying to decrease disparities.
Dr. Sequist is program director of Cancer Early Detection & Diagnostics at Massachusetts General Hospital and also The Landry Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“…be sure to ask your doctor if genetic testing has been performed on your cancer, and if not, can it be performed? It’s not always the right answer, depends on the type of cancer that you have and the stage, but if you have adenocarcinoma and an advanced cancer, like stage III or stage IV, it is the standard to get genetic testing and that should be something that can be done.”
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Thank you. Dr. Sequist, with cancer care, there are some noted disparities, particularly with access to screening and care. What are some of those disparities with lung cancer screening and care?
Dr. Lecia Sequist:
Lung cancer, unfortunately, there are a lot of disparities around the globe, but even if we focus on the U.S., there’s a lot of regional disparities as far as who’s getting cancer, who’s getting lung cancer, where the cancer treatment centers are located, where the screening is available. Lung cancer screening is really effective as far as finding cancer in the earliest stages. It’s not equally available across the country. Some of it has to do with there are certain states that expanded their Medicaid coverage as part of the medical care reform that happened about seven, eight years ago, and there are some states that didn’t expand the Medicaid, and then that situation translated into whether lung cancer screening was easy to get started in hospitals in that state. So there are some regions of the country, and a lot of them are in the South as well as the Western U.S., where if you want to get lung cancer screening, you may have to travel more than 30 miles or even more than 50 miles in order to get lung cancer screening.
There’s lots of activists and patient advocacy groups that are working to try and fix that problem so that anyone could have access to lung cancer screening within a reasonable distance of where they live, but there’s a lot of barriers. Similarly, there are barriers to getting genetic testing performed. We know that doing genetic testing on a lung cancer, it can be really helpful, especially if you have adenocarcinoma, the most common type of lung cancer, getting genetic testing done to see if there are targeted therapies that can be used to treat the cancer is a really important step in the diagnosis, but not all patients are having that done. And as you might imagine, there’s disparities, racial disparities in who’s getting these tests ordered and who is not having that testing done. And so it is important. My activation tip for patients would be to be sure to ask your doctor if genetic testing has been performed on your cancer, and if not, can it be performed? It’s not always the right answer, depends on the type of cancer that you have and the stage, but if you have adenocarcinoma and an advanced cancer, like stage III or stage IV, it is the standard to get genetic testing and that should be something that can be done.