Grant for Lung Cancer Screening

Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has awarded $1.6 million in grant funding to the “Walking Forward” program based in Rapid City South Dakota. The program integrated with Avera Health works with Regional Health located in South Dakota.

The grant funding will be managed through Avera to help American Indians living on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations. The plan is to investigate the effectiveness of two interventions to increase lung cancer screening among high-risk smokers.

The “Walking Forward” initiative led by Daniel Petereit MD, a radiation oncologist at Regional Health, is the largest private employer in Western South Dakota now provides healthcare to more than 20 communities in two states.

Originally, the “Walking Forward” initiative was created to address the high cancer mortality rates among American Indians in western South Dakota but now the new grant funding will enable research to address the entire West River population.

Through the study, Dr. Petereit and his team hope to decrease lung cancer mortality rates by increasing LDCT lung cancer screening and early detection so leading treatments for lung cancer will be successful

“We are thrilled to partner with Avera health on this initiative to focus on a rural frontier population and American Indians in South Dakota, said John Damonti, President of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.  Damonti reports, “more than eight million worldwide die from cancer each year with 60 percent from undeveloped regions.”

As part of the study the “Walking Forward” team will offer healthcare providers and clinic staff with educational opportunities designed to increase their awareness and the ability to identify and refer high-risk tobacco users to LDCT lung cancer screening.

Figures show that the incidence of lung cancer incidences for American Indians in this region is the highest in the country and it is important to understand why there is low utilization of Low Dose CT (LDCT) scans and develop interventions to help increase uptake and referral.

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