On a bright clear day last month, a group of cyclists hit the road in support of Duke Cancer Institute (DCI) and the Ride Hard Breathe Easy Foundation (RHBE) to raise awareness about and funds for lung cancer screening.
While the DCI team participated in a 26-mile out-and-back course starting at Duke campus, other RHBE riders continued on a 600-mile seven-day route to Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
The 2022 6th Annual Ride Hard Breathe Easy Classic raised $15,000 for the Duke Lung Cancer Screening Program Patient Support Fund — administered by the DCI Supportive Care & Survivorship Center — which provides financial assistance for lung CT cancer screening at Duke for the uninsured. Support is being offered for up to 100% of the patient’s out-of-pocket costs, based on Duke’s financial assistance sliding scale.
Among the riders was DCI thoracic surgical oncologist Betty Tong, MD, MHS, MS, a fierce advocate for lung screening, which is estimated to have saved more than 10,000 American lives since 2013 when low-dose screening CT scans were first introduced for high-risk people over 55 with a history of smoking.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends annual lung cancer screening for adults between the ages of 50 and 80 who are either current smokers or quit within the past 15 years AND who have a 20 “pack-year” or greater smoking history; that’s at minimum one pack-a-day for 20 years or two packs-a-day for 10 years. Tong says that to qualify for lung cancer screening at Duke, these criteria must be met. Patients must also be asymptomatic and well enough to undergo potential treatment for lung cancer.
Unlike mammography or colon cancer screening, lung cancer screening requires a shared decision-making visit in advance. Prior to the scan, an advanced practice provider speaks to the patient about the risks and benefits of screening and is also available to discuss tobacco cessation options at Duke.
Should patients discover they do have lung cancer, Tong says, they will find themselves in good hands at DCI.
“From the surgical side, Duke is a pioneer in minimally invasive surgery for lung cancer, which gets people back and recovered much faster with less pain and better quality of life than traditional surgery,” Tong assures. “In addition, there are a range of therapies newly available to treat more advanced lung cancers.”
To date, Ride Hard Breathe Easy has raised more than $600,000 in support of its mission to raise awareness about lung screening and early detection of cancer, provide direct financial assistance to patients and their caregivers, and end the stigma associated with a lung cancer diagnosis. The charity’s partner hospitals include Duke Cancer Institute, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Lung Center, Einstein Medical Center, Lung Health Services, and Crozer Health.