The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has given a $5 million grant to the Maine Medical Center for the creation of a statewide initiative to improve prevention, early detection, and treatment of lung cancer in the state.
Maine ranks among the highest in lung cancer incidence rates and related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The statewide initiative created by the Maine Medical Center (MMC) is the Maine Lung Cancer Prevention and Screening Initiative (LungCAPS), a four-year, multi-institution, multi-disciplinary collaboration of Maine healthcare providers and stakeholders.
The ultimate goal of the Maine LungCAPS Initiative is to develop the necessary infrastructure to implement and disseminate evidence-based lung cancer prevention and early detection services, as well as to facilitate early referrals for treatment of lung cancer patients throughout the state. The four-year initiative will be launched this summer.
“Maine LungCAPS Initiative is bringing together multisector partners and stakeholders to develop and validate innovative models for access and utilization of lung cancer screening, treatment, and care that are effective and sustainable for vulnerable populations throughout Maine,” said BMS Foundation President John Damonti in a press release.
A central focus of the initiative are the vulnerable, rural, underserved patient populations in Maine. LungCAPS will coordinate its efforts along four core areas: implementation, prevention, early detection, and stakeholder engagement and education.
These strategies include using community health workers as well as telemedicine technology to provide lung cancer prevention and screening services for residents of rural communities with limited access to healthcare.
“The Maine LungCAPS Initiative will test innovative strategies to reach these individuals and ultimately reduce suffering and death from lung cancer in our state,” said Dr. Paul Han, MD, MA, MPH, director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at the MMC Research Institute. He is also Maine LungCAPS Initiative’s principal investigator.
The project was co-financed with the Maine Cancer Foundation (MCF) with a grant of $400,000 over four years, and with the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF), which will donate $200,000 to the project through the University of Southern Maine.
“Maine’s high smoking rate, our rural nature, and barriers to healthcare all contribute to high cancer rates,” said Tara Hill, executive director of the Maine Cancer Foundation. “Over a quarter of Maine’s cancer patients have lung cancer.”
She said the case for MCF to co-fund the initiative was both obvious and compelling.
“The Maine LungCAPS Initiative will develop the infrastructure and interinstitutional collaboration required to expand access to evidence-based lung cancer prevention and screening services, and to facilitate earlier and more effective treatment of lung cancer for patients across the state,” Han said.
Maine LungCAPS Initiative has other major partners, including Maine General Prevention Center; Maine Health Center for Tobacco Independence; Maine Quality Counts; American Lung Association of the Northeast; American Cancer Society; University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service; EMHS; Maine Public Health Association; and healthcare providers and advocacy groups from across the state.