by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | August 23, 2021
The WVU Cancer Institute and WVU Medicine are taking lung cancer screening on the road to residents in West Virginia with the launch of their new mobile unit, LUCAS.
LUCAS is the first fully mobile AI-powered CT unit for low-dose lung cancer screening in the U.S. It is capable of traveling statewide without relying on facility-based power, a quality that is expected to improve West Virginians’ access to lung cancer screenings.
“Because we wanted to go to rural areas around West Virginia that may not have facility power sources, it was important that LUCAS have an independent power supply. There is a separate generator that travels as part of the unit. By providing continuous power, we can maintain high throughput,” Dr. Kyle Chapman, lead pulmonologist for lung cancer screening at the WVU Cancer Institute and medical director of LUCAS, told HCB News.
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The unit will provide scanning in all 42 of West Virginia’s counties, serving up to 20 patients a day amid COVID-19 protocols. It will refer patients in need of follow-up to facilities closest to their homes. Those without insurance will not be turned away, with grant funds and donations available to pay for their screenings.
The unit incorporates AI-based capabilities by Canon that help decrease its radiation doses by as much as 82% relative to the standard of care. The design for LUCAS is based on the performance and infrastructure of Bonnie’s Bus, which has completed more than 23,000 screening mammograms and identified more than 110 cases of breast cancer since 2009.
Its service is expected to reduce the number of lung cancer diagnoses and related deaths, which the 2019 West Virginia Cancer Burden Report put at approximately 2,047 and 1,460 a year, respectively. Currently, only 22% are diagnosed before cancer has spread, while half that are already have distant metastasis.
“Our hope is that LUCAS will serve as a pilot project. After our launch, we can see what works well and identify areas for improvement before building similar models for expansion, especially in other rural areas,” said Chapman.
Collaborating with the program is Canon Medical Systems, USA and the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson.
LUCAS will start traveling around West Virginia this month.