por Loren Bonner
, DOTmed News Online Editor | December 03, 2013
Scott Reid's wife, Gail Hausser, was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer at the age of 46. She died 363 days later, in August 2012.
In fact, over the last six years, Reid has personally seen three healthy people — including his wife — die of lung cancer.
"This shouldn't happen," Reid told DOTmed News. "Then you realize that compared to other cancers, how little money there is for lung cancer, yet the death rate is higher."
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He speculates that part of the reason might be the stigma attached to lung cancer — that somehow smokers deserve it, and that healthy people rarely get this type of cancer.
But statistics tell a different story. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and according to the Lung Cancer Alliance, the lung cancer mortality rate for people who have never smoked is essentially the same as the mortality rate for prostate cancer.
When Reid found out about a program called Give-a-Scan, then in trial form, which encourages people to donate their scans or the scans of a loved one to research, it was a no-brainer to participate. He told Hausser's doctors they had to cooperate, and he wouldn't take no for an answer.
The program, spearheaded by the Lung Cancer Allilance (LCA), rolls out nationally today.
Donated scans are funneled through the LCA and made available on an open access site to researchers around the world. The LCA makes no profit and the patient's identity is protected.
"We are communicating with hundreds of hospitals and providing them with materials that they can share with patients who would like to donate scans as one would donate blood," Laurie Fenton Ambrose, president and CEO of the Lung Cancer Alliance, told DOTmed News.
Coinciding with the national rollout, Siemens Healthcare announced that it will sponsor the program. Right now, most of the hospitals that the Lung Cancer Alliance has designated "centers of excellence" for lung cancer screening and treatment use Siemens' CT scanners.
"CT plays a big role in the early detection of lung cancer but at the same time, CT goes beyond early detection and has a significant role in the entire care process, including in staging and treatment planning," Murat Gungor, vice president of Siemens Healthcare's CT business unit in the U.S., told DOTmed News.
According to Fenton Ambrose, the program is intended to address lung cancer researchers' requests for information that they have had trouble accessing before — not just images but also clinical data and meta data like a person's age, medical history and possible treatment.
“It also helps those diagnosed, at risk, and the people who love them feel part of giving back to accelerate what we hope is a cure.” she said.
For Reid, the donation process was easy and straightforward — no cost and it took up just a few hours of his time — for something he said he hopes will build his wife's legacy.