Innovative ‘Eddy’ mobile unit brings screening to urban and rural areas; new program expands access for firefighters
- Currently, less than 6% of New Yorkers are getting screened as recommended
- Mobile screening and new program for firefighters are first of kind in state
- West Herr Cares donates funds to support educational outreach
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Faced with extremely low rates of lung cancer screening and poor access to early detection services in some communities, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center worked with state and local officials to tackle the challenge of reducing lung cancer’s impact on Western New York. The result of this collaboration is Eddy, or Early Detection Driven to You — lung cancer screening on wheels, implemented through novel outreach programs targeted to benefit underserved and high-risk communities.
Roswell Park’s Eddy outreach program, funded in part by an allocation from New York State, will bring state-of-the-art mobile lung screening directly to the communities and populations that can most benefit from lung screening due to higher risk for lung cancer and/or poor access to screening facilities — across the Western New York region, which includes Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties.
In a press conference today at the Buffalo Fire Department’s Rescue One fire station on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, held just as Lung Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, Roswell Park leaders and partners met to detail the plans for this newly launched screening and education program.
“We set out to make lung cancer screening easier, more accessible and more equitable so that everyone who should be screened can be screened,” says Roswell Park President, CEO and M&T Bank Presidential Chair in Leadership Candace S. Johnson, PhD. “We have a powerful opportunity to change the trajectory of lung cancer in our communities, and we were able to build this program only through the enthusiastic support and collaboration of our partners from all corners — government, municipal services and the business world.”
The Roswell Park Eddy program is the first of its kind in New York state, and one of few across the nation, distinguished through several key elements:
- The ongoing mobile outreach program is funded in part by an allocation from New York State, incorporated as part of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Executive Budget and authorized by legislators as an evidence-based strategy to improve health equity and reduce cancer’s burden on underserved urban, rural and minority communities — the first New York State investment of its kind, aimed at advancing public health through mobile cancer screening.
- A program designed by Roswell Park in collaboration with the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Fire Department will give every active Buffalo firefighter the opportunity to get screened for lung cancer through Eddy’s visits to firehouses — the first such program anywhere in New York, and one of few in the nation. While studies have found that firefighters face 60% increased risk of developing lung cancer, a majority of firefighters do not qualify for lung cancer early detection based on current federal guidelines.
- The program is a model for public-private partnership to advance public health, involving not only Roswell Park, the State of New York and the City of Buffalo but also enlisting both contracted and in-kind services from:
- Philips Healthcare, manufacturer of the specialized imaging equipment capable of mobile low-dose spiral CT (computed tomography) screening;
- DMS Health Technologies, which is providing drivers and logistical support for the mobile unit;
- West Herr Cares, which donated a support vehicle as well as funding for an ongoing educational initiative to make sure residents in underserved areas and populations are informed about mobile screening dates and opportunities to bring Eddy directly into their communities.
“Catching lung cancer early is critical to saving lives,” says Congressman Brian Higgins. “This mobile unit will bring screening technology out into the communities reaching people where they are, including firefighters and others considered high-risk. This is one of several ways Roswell Park is a national leader on initiatives that will reduce lung cancer deaths. We were pleased to work alongside Roswell Park to advance this mission through meaningful bipartisan dialogue in Congress, with legislation that expands access to lung cancer screening, and by delivering federal funding that will also enhance cancer screening technology at Roswell Park’s Downtown and Amherst campuses.”
“When it comes to early detection of any illness, we know that accessibility to care is key,” says New York State Senator Tim Kennedy. “By bringing lung cancer screenings directly into communities that have been overlooked for decades, Roswell Park is yet again taking an innovative, progressive approach to medicine and empowering individuals with the resources they need to live healthy and full lives.”
“We know lung cancer screening saves lives, we know who can benefit most from it, it’s a quick and noninvasive scan — but still only 6% of New Yorkers have been getting screened as recommended,” says Mary Reid, PhD, MSPH, Roswell Park’s Chief of Cancer Screening and Survivorship. “Now we have an evidence-based, patient-centered program to eliminate some of the barriers that have gotten in the way of catching lung cancers early. This program will save lives.”
While lung cancer screening can detect the disease at earlier stages, too many people who should be screened because they are at increased risk for developing lung cancer are not getting this important test — a quick and easy low-dose CT scan. Because of this, many lung cancer patients already have advanced and difficult-to-treat disease at the time of diagnosis.
Eddy, outfitted with state-of-the-art screening technology, will bring life-saving lung cancer screening to the New Yorkers who need it most, with a focus on reaching medically underserved and racially diverse populations. The mobile screenings will be offered initially in Western New York, and soon will also be traveling to high-need areas of Central and Upstate New York.
Specially trained patient navigators will help coordinate outreach through block clubs, community organizations and health centers — especially in underserved and low-income communities — helping to inform people about lung cancer risk and screening eligibility and to gather needed information.
The newly expanded screening program for active Buffalo firefighters serves the newest element of the First Responders Screening Program Roswell Park launched in late 2020. The program provides a physical examination, lab tests, bloodwork, comprehensive skin cancer screening and imaging for eligible individuals. Since the program’s inception, Roswell Park has screened more than 250 first responders. Early detection of cancer is a key factor in improving better survival, quality of life and access to more effective treatment options.
In addition, Roswell continues to partner with Local 282, the union representing the Buffalo Fire Department, sitting on the department’s Cancer Prevention Committee, and continues to support ongoing decontamination and toxic exposure risk mitigation practices.
Since the Eddy outreach program was launched earlier this month, Roswell Park has provided mobile screening for 80 individuals — including firefighters screened over several dates at Buffalo Fire headquarters and at the Rescue 1 station. To learn more, see a calendar of upcoming dates and inquire about Eddy coming to a location near you, please go to roswellpark.org/eddy.
Facts about lung cancer and lung cancer screening:
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women, causing more deaths than colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer combined.
- Only 24% of these tumors are diagnosed at early stages, when treatment options and expected survival are much more favorable.
- Black Americans have a higher risk of developing lung cancer and are 18% less likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed early.
- Based on compelling evidence from large national studies, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung scans for people ages 50-80 who have smoked for at least 20 years.
- Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a national coverage determination (NCD) that expanded coverage for lung cancer screening to improve health outcomes for people with lung cancer.
- More than 36% of New York State residents living in counties with the highest rates of lung cancer deaths must drive at least an hour to get a low-dose CT scan.
- Eligibility: You should be screened for lung cancer if you are within the ages of 50 and 79 and have 20 pack/years of smoking history and have smoked within the past 15 years, even if you no longer smoke. You may also be eligible based on personal history of cancer of the lung, esophagus, head or neck, or other factors, including: asbestos-related lung disease or pulmonary asbestosis; history of emphysema; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); family history of lung cancer (your parent, sibling or child).
- Roswell Park has offered lung cancer screening since 1998 for people who are at high risk of developing the disease.
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or ASKRoswell@RoswellPark.org.
Rebecca Vogt, Media Relations Specialist