Jamie L. Studts, PhD
Associate Professor, University of Kentucky
Assistant Director, Cancer Prevention and Control
Director, Clinical and Community Research Shared Resource Facility
Lucille P. Markey Cancer Center
Kentucky LEADS Collaborative
Lucille P. Markey Cancer Center
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer mortality, killing more Americans than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined—and Kentucky is the epicenter of lung cancer in the United States. Not only do we suffer a rate of lung cancer mortality that is 50% higher than the national average, there are some areas of the state with lung cancer mortality rates that are nearly 2.5 times the national average, prompting some to refer to it as the “Commonwealth’s Cancer.” At the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, lowering our state’s dire mortality and incidence rates is a top priority.
In January 2014, the Kentucky Cancer Consortium— a statewide organization dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer throughout the state—organized a meeting of clinicians, scientists, and advocates to consider responding to a funding opportunity designed to improving lung cancer survivorship offered by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Bridging Cancer Care Initiative. From this meeting, the group identified three strategies that incorporated efforts to change clinical practices, improve survivorship care options, and facilitate implementation of high-quality lung cancer screening.
Ultimately, the application adopted a multilevel approach, leveraging the training and expertise of the full team of invested collaborators from the UK Markey Cancer Center, the University of Louisville Brown Cancer Center, and the Lung Cancer Alliance, creating the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative (Lung Cancer Education, Awareness, Detection, Survivorship).
The collective efforts of the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative allowed us to compete successfully for a $7 million grant to conduct a three-pronged initiative over the course of three years. The first year of the project, which began in the fall of 2014, has been dedicated to developing the three interventions, including substantial efforts to partner with more than 50 community organizations and healthcare systems. In the second phase of the initiative, the teams will begin to implement and evaluate the three interventions detailed below. Finally, the third phase of the project will thoroughly analyze the benefits and limitations of the interventions, modifying programs based on provider, survivor, and system feedback, and considering efforts to sustain successful programs.
The first component of the project is led by a team at the University of Louisville that has substantial experience working with primary care providers throughout Kentucky to provide education and training efforts regarding lung cancer care and control efforts. To take advantage of the wide-ranging innovations in lung cancer research and practice, the Provider Education team has invested substantial effort in working collaboratively with the primary care provider community to develop a Primary Care Lung Cancer Task Force, which produced Lung Cancer in Kentucky: A Primary Care Action Plan.
This work has led to the development of a diverse platform of continuing education programming that will be offered to primary care providers regarding best practices and evidence-based care for lung cancer that includes coverage of the latest innovations related to lung cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life care.
Lung cancer screening efforts that offer early diagnosis and more effective treatment of lung cancer provide a unique opportunity to place greater emphasis on lung cancer survivorship and meeting the needs of the growing populations of individuals who survive lung cancer as well as the caregivers who provide support.