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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Historically 2013 will be seen as the watershed year when key policy objectives were achieved that will forever change lung cancer mortality rates. So it is with gratitude to everyone in the lung cancer community who have been supportive of our work that I write this annual report letter. None of this could have been accomplished without you.
Our focus has always been twofold: to change federal public health policy and increase research funding for lung cancer, and to provide high quality, personalized support services for patients and their families with our very committed professional staff.
Some of you may remember Lung Cancer Alliance’s first conference in Washington in 2006 when then Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Hagel “dropped by” our luncheon in the Capitol to announce they were introducing that day the first legislation to focus on lung cancer: a Senate Resolution calling for priority status and a coordinated plan of action.
Several iterations later, and after years of patiently building support in the House and Senate, Congress passed the Recalcitrant Cancer Act of 2013, which requires the National Cancer Institute to develop a Scientific Framework for research on high mortality rate cancers, with priority given to lung and pancreatic cancers.
In 2013, we secured an additional $10.5 million in funding through the Department of Defense, bringing the total to nearly $70 million, for the Lung Cancer Research Program that we were able to have enacted in 2008. Nearly 90 research projects have been funded through this program through end of last year, and another 23 are about to be awarded in a few months.
Funding for lung cancer research under the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute was $208 million in fiscal year 2013, with $213 million scheduled for fiscal year 2014. We continue to work with the Lethal Cancer Coalition and other advocacy organizations to increase federal cancer research funding. We empower our own lung cancer community to directly impact research through our Give a Scan program.
The second milestone of 2013 was the high grade of approval given to CT lung cancer screening by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an outcome we have been pushing to secure for three years. Under the Affordable Care Act, this automatically establishes targeted lung cancer screening as an “Essential Health Benefit” that must be covered without co-pays by all insurance plans (except for certain grandfathered self-insured plans) within the year.
With coverage assured for those under 65, we are now working to secure Medicare coverage. In partnership with the American College of Radiology and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons we have put together the largest coalition of professional organizations ever to support this effort. Nearly 200 members of the House and Senate have also written to Medicare on this issue.
In 2013, to help ensure that screening would be implemented responsibly - and so the public would know what constitutes responsible screening and where to be screened - Lung Cancer Alliance officially launched the Framework for Excellence in Lung Cancer Screening and the Continuum of Care. Over 220 Framework sites around the country, from academic centers to community hospitals, are already bringing this life saving benefit into public health, and the number of new sites is accelerating. We are proud to have received the National Innovation Impact Award for the Framework.
Currently only 15% of lung cancers are found - usually coincidentally - at early stage when tumors are most treatable and even curable. Medical professionals predict that CT screening those at high risk for lung cancer will save tens of thousands of lives a year and bring about the most profound reduction in lung cancer mortality rates ever seen.
This is not just a game changer for smoking related lung cancer. We predict that the knowledge gained from screening and collecting the bio specimens of those at known high risk will revolutionize research into pre-cancerous conditions, malignancy and metastasis that will accelerate therapies for all types of lung cancers, if not all cancers.
We made a promise to the lung cancer community to change public health policy and lung cancer outcomes. Thanks to your support we are delivering on that promise.
Laurie Fenton Ambrose
President & CEO
2013 PROGRAM AND SUPPORTING SERVICE EXPENSES