Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute Wednesday launched the first-ever mobile unit with a computed tomography (CT) scanner as part of the health system’s effort to address lung cancer diagnoses, treatment and education for rural residents across the Carolinas.

The mobile lung unit is the first of its kind to link those in rural areas to lung cancer education and treatment interventions through integrated mobile technology, traditional treatment facilities and medical staff.

By traveling to locations where at-risk patients live and providing lung cancer screenings, the unit will provide better access to diagnoses and care for underserved, uninsured and high-risk populations.

"This unique vehicle visibly demonstrates our commitment to removing the barriers to care that exist in many of the communities served by Levine Cancer Institute," says Derek Raghavan, M.D., president, Levine Cancer Institute.

"We firmly believe that by taking advanced, low-radiation lung cancer screenings to these communities, new lung cancer patients will be diagnosed at an earlier stage and will have access to a broad array of support and treatments," he says.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, taking more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. The creation of the mobile screening unit will help to reverse this trend by making care accessible.   

The specially designed, built-in portable, low-dose CT scanner can develop high-quality images for soft tissue and bone for accurate diagnosis.

Photo courtesy of Carolinas HealthCare

Participants will be screened in their communities, each receiving detailed information regarding any follow-up process along with contact information to resources such as a program coordinator or navigator for any questions.

Features of the mobile unit include: 

  • A built-in portable, low-dose CT scanner that can develop high-quality images for soft tissue and bone for accurate diagnosis.
  • Wireless connection for fast and easy image transfers.
  • The utilization of low power consumption.
  • Handicapped accessibility.

In addition to the mobile unit, a $1.6 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation provides funding for a comprehensive education and clinical intervention program, known as the Lung B.A.S.E.S. 4 Life program.

Other partners in the program include Samsung, which created and designed the CT scanner, and Frazer Ltd., which developed and designed the custom mobile unit. The unit will be staffed by an emergency medical technician, registered nurse and a radiology tech. Screenings are scheduled to start the second quarter of this year.

"It is our belief that a mobile screening program like Lung B.A.S.E.S. 4 Life could lead to a new industry standard for how initial diagnoses and care for lung cancer patients should transpire to ensure quality outcomes and extended survivorship," says John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

If a patient is identified to have lung cancer, the program then provides him or her with comprehensive education, clinical intervention and patient navigators, who are nurses that assist patients through the network of cancer-treatment decisions and fears.

Individuals requiring biopsies or other interventions will receive treatment at Levine Cancer Institute or a Carolinas HealthCare System facility regardless of insurance status.

Carolinas HealthCare System, one of the nation's leading and most innovative health care organizations, provides a full spectrum of health care and wellness programs throughout North and South Carolina.