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Lung Cancer Alliance Salutes Veterans

Calls on VA to Screen Veterans at High Risk for Lung Cancer

Washington, DC [November 9, 2011] -- Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) salutes the nation's 22 million Veterans for their service to our country and calls on the Department of Veterans Affairs to institute CT screening for those at high risk for lung cancer.

Admiral T. Joseph Lopez, USN (Ret.), chairman of the LCA Board of Directors, said, "The most meaningful way we can show gratitude to our veterans is to offer them a benefit that will help save their lives.”

“Lung cancer, which kills more Americans each year than the next four major cancers combined, is hitting our veterans even harder than civilians,” he said. “But now, finally, we can do something about it.”

“Thanks to the eight year long trial carried out by the National Cancer Institute, we now have proof that giving a CT scan to those at high risk before they have symptoms can find lung cancers at early stage and significantly reduce lung cancer deaths,” the admiral said.

Over 8000 new lung cancer cases a year are being diagnosed in VA system alone and most will die within a year because currently, without screening, only 15 % of lung cancer are being found at an early stage when it can be successfully treated.

“CT screening completely changes that equation,” he said.

Veterans at high risk would include:

  • Current and former smokers over 55 with a 30 pack year history (number of packs a day times the number of years smoked)
  • Current and former smokers  over 50 with a 20 pack year history and a least one other risk factor, such as a family history of lung cancer, other lung disease and exposure to  Agent Orange, asbestos, radon, arsenic, diesel fumes and other cancer causing chemicals and environmental hazards

The VA has the equipment, as well as the imaging and electronic record keeping capacity to institute screening in a thoughtful, comprehensive way that will minimize risk, control cost and set a national standard for screening that could be incorporated into TRICARE and civilian health care systems, he pointed out.

Admiral Lopez is only the second person in US Navy history to attain four stars after direct commissioning from enlisted service.  He assumed the chairmanship of the LCA Board in 2010 and had joined the Board in 2008 after learning that one of his best friends, Rear Admiral Philip J, Coady, Jr., who formerly chaired the LCA Board, had lung cancer.  Eight months after joining the board Admiral Lopez’s wife was diagnosed with the disease.  Both she and Admiral Coady died of lung cancer.  Neither had the wonderful opportunity to survive through early detection that our Veterans now have through CT-scan screening.

For more information about lung cancer risk and screening visit www.screenforlungcancer.org.

Lung Cancer Alliance is the only national non-profit dedicated to providing support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer.  LCA is committed to reversing decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for lung cancer, elevating awareness and changing health policy at both the federal and state level.

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