Friday, October 8, 2021
A new initiative brings together advocates to tackle the No. 1 cause of cancer-related deaths – lung cancer. End Lung Cancer Now is the brainchild of Nasser Hanna, M.D., the Tom and Julie Wood Family Foundation Professor of Lung Cancer Clinical Research at Indiana University School of Medicine and a physician scientist at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The mission of End Lung Cancer Now is to educate and empower patient advocates to eliminate tobacco use in Indiana, screen all eligible patients with chest CT scans and dramatically increase participation in lung cancer research.
Hanna answers questions about this new initiative.
Q: What was your inspiration for creating End Lung Cancer Now?
A: I am inspired to do everything I can to reduce the suffering and death from lung cancer. I’ve witnessed a lot of suffering over the years, which motivates me to do something about it. Taking care of patients is very fulfilling, as is doing research. However, I love advocacy work and End Lung Cancer Now is all about advocacy—advocating for clinical trial participation, smoking cessation, increasing CT screening uptake, and supporting those with lung cancer, their families and caregivers.
Q: The idea of ending lung cancer is bold. What gives you the most hope that this goal is achievable?
A: We have the knowledge and tools to make lung cancer a rare cause of suffering and death…right now! We can reduce the incidence of lung cancer by 90 percent in the next 20 years by dramatically reducing cigarette smoking. We can reduce lung cancer mortality by 20 percent right now by maximizing screening CT scans. We can accelerate therapeutic progress by increasing enrollment in clinical trials, as only 5 percent to 10 percent of people with lung cancer participate in research.
Q. Talk about the goals of the organization and how End Lung Cancer Now plans to achieve them.
A: We will activate, educate and energize motivated advocates to work on awareness campaigns and fundraising, and we will integrate our efforts into existing tobacco cessation and screening programs within the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and around the state.
Q: As you mentioned, providing access to clinical trials is one of the goals of End Lung Cancer Now. What are some things you’d like people to know about IU’s impressive track record in lung cancer clinical trial research?
A: The standard of care treatments for lung cancer – meaning the widely accepted best plans for treatment – have been partly established by research done at Indiana University. The cancer drugs Pemetrexed, Gemcitabine and Bevacizumab were all FDA approved in lung cancer based on IU research. The standard of care treatment over the course of 25 years for small cell lung cancer was established by research performed at IU. The current standards of care in stage III non-small cell lung cancer were shaped by research done at IU. I’m proud of our track record, but none of the improved treatments would have happened without the men and women who took part in clinical trials. We’re indebted to them.
Q. The inaugural End Lung Cancer Now Gathering will be held virtually on Nov. 5. Who should attend this virtual symposium and what should they expect?
A. Anyone interested in learning more about how individuals can partner with us to impact lung cancer should attend. The discussion will be highly educational and motivational. It will lead to a call to action for those interested in the cause. (Visit End Lung Cancer Now and click on the "gathering" banner to register.)
Q. What does it mean to be an End Lung Cancer Now advocate, and who should get involved?
A. Being an End Lung Cancer Now advocate means you’re motivated to make an impact on lung cancer. It means you are interested in participating in or leading awareness campaigns. Perhaps you are interested in fundraising for research. Perhaps you are interested in working with tobacco control programs or screening CT programs. Or perhaps you are interested in activities meant to support lung cancer survivors. Advocacy with End Lung Cancer Now will be based on a person’s strengths and interests as we all work toward the same goal.