Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined advocates at the state Capitol to proclaim Lung Cancer Awareness Month in the commonwealth, and he encouraged Kentuckians to learn more about lung cancer, its risk factors and screening options.
“Kentuckians suffer from lung cancer at a much higher rate than the rest of the country,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are seeing improvements in screening and early detection, but there is still much work to be done to educate our people about prevention and to encourage them to get help once they receive a diagnosis.”
Accepting the Governor’s proclamation on behalf of the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative was Dr. Timothy Mullett, a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Mullett also is the medical director of Markey Cancer Center Affiliate & Research Network, a program that provides high-quality cancer care and high-priority clinical trials, and serves as the chair of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
“Kentucky is home to some of the worst cancer rates in the country, and lung cancer is at the top of that list. The good news is that our methods for lung cancer screening, treatment and prevention have significantly improved over the years, and because of our collaborative work in early detection in lung cancer, we are seeing decreases in late-stage lung cancer that we have not seen before,” Mullett said. “Our work is drawing the attention of national organizations like the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the American Cancer Society to develop solutions that can be applied across the nation. I’m proud to be here today alongside so many other organizations and individuals who are pushing for more research and resources to help reduce the impact of this disease in the commonwealth.”
Joining Gov. Beshear and Dr. Mullett was lung cancer survivor Scott Kindred, founder of STAGES, a support group for lung cancer patients at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. Scott has had a remarkable cancer journey, developing into an advocate for himself and helping others touched by lung cancer be their own advocates as well.
Kindred said, “It’s so important that patients and survivors with lung cancer can get information so they can understand about the disease and its treatment and to connect with other survivors to know they are not alone.”
Other patient advocacy organizations represented at the event include the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Go2 Lung Cancer Foundation, Kentucky Cancer Consortium and LUNGevity Foundation.
Kentucky has the highest lung cancer rate in the nation, with more than 89 of every 100,000 people diagnosed, and a death rate 50% higher than the national average.
While Kentucky is second in the nation in lung cancer screening, nearly 11% of those diagnosed with lung cancer do not receive cancer treatment – a significantly higher rate than the national average.
For Kentuckians who are or were smokers, screening for lung cancer is particularly important. Lung cancer screening is recommended for adults who have no symptoms, but who are at high risk for developing disease because of their smoking history and age. If you meet all of these criteria, you are eligible for screening:
- You are 50-80 years of age.
- You averaged one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years.
- You currently smoke or quit smoking within the past 15 years.
If cancer is found early, there are more treatment options available for patients and the chance of survival is much higher. To learn more about the lung cancer screening program at UK HealthCare’s Markey Cancer Center, click here.
For more information about lung cancer, see the American Lung Association’s State of Lung Cancer 2021 report.
Kentuckians who do not have access to the health care necessary to provide lung cancer screening opportunities or treatment can seek access by enrolling for health care coverage at kynect.ky.gov. To get help signing up, Kentuckians can also call help lines for kynect benefits 1.855.306.8959, kynect health coverage 1.855.459.6328.
Enrollments received through Dec. 15, 2021, will qualify for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2022. For Kentuckians who enroll between Dec. 16, 2021, and Jan. 15, 2022, coverage will start Feb. 1, 2022. Enrollment in a commercial plan will remain open on kynect.ky.gov through Jan. 15, 2022. To learn more, see the full release.