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Improving access to treatment for lung cancer patients

What happens when a person develops lung cancer? In the best of cases, the individual experiences a timely diagnosis and is counseled on all their treatment options, including:

  • stage-appropriate treatment
  • palliative care
  • clinical trials
  • financial or emotional support resources
  • anything else pertinent to their new way of life

Too often, however, we hear of people whose journey through the diagnosis was too long and challenging, or people who are given their diagnosis and never referred for treatment. In the worst occasions, some people are told, “Get your affairs in order,” or, “There’s nothing I can do for you.”

To address these issues head-on, Free to Breathe launched a project, dubbed "Improving Access to Treatment for Lung Cancer Patients" (AccessTLC). This two-part project will be implemented through a unique collaboration with:

  • Univerisity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Healthcare Performance Consulting
  • Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina

Part 1: Documenting timeliness of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment

We are working to document the time it takes for a person with lung cancer to go from diagnosis to treatment. We hope to better understand why any unnecessary delays to treatment occur so we can create effective programs for health care providers to improve patient care. We firmly believe with the treatment options we have available today, appropriate and timely referral to the right care should improve survival rates.

This study will measure the time it takes for lung cancer patients to be diagnosed and receive appropriate care in:

  • Wisconsin - a state with one of the lowest incidences of lung cancer in the US
  • North Carolina - a state with one of the highest incidences of lung cancer in the US

Part 2: Educating the medical community

We will use the information learned in the first part of the project to launch comprehensive educational outreach activities to improve the care patients receive throughout the country.

AccessTLC has already developed learning activities designed specifically for primary care providers:

Primary care physicians in Wisconsin and North Carolina have already had access to live educational activities:“What Every Family Physician Should Know About Lung Cancer.” The presentations have teamed a lung cancer survivor with a medical oncologist to present a comprehensive overview of a real-life diagnosis of lung cancer. This program can be replicated for other medical education audiences; if you are interested in bringing the program to your area, please contact Free to Breathe CEO Regina Vidaver.

AccessTLC is supported by an educational grant from Pfizer.

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