The cancer center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) has launched a study to investigate why so many eligible patients refrain from lung cancer screening.

Moon Chen, Jr., the cancer center’s senior advisor for community outreach and population sciences, said, “The purpose of the study is to interview UC Davis patients, doctors and nurses to discover what is holding eligible patients back from being screened for lung cancer. We also want to learn how we, as a health system, can be more successful in getting our screening rates up.”

An estimated 80—90% of all lung cancers are caused by tobacco use. New lung cancer screening guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force were rolled out in 2021 to enable smokers and former smokers to qualify more easily for screening. But lung cancer screening rates remain abysmally low. Only about 1% of those eligible for lung cancer screening are getting screened in California.

“It is easier than ever to qualify for low dose lung cancer CT scans,” Chen said. “That’s why we need to understand why we are not seeing the rates for lung cancer screening increase.”

Treatment breakthroughs, including a new robotic procedure at UC Davis that offers diagnosis and removal of lung cancer during a single surgery, make lung cancer less stressful and treatments more successful. That’s why UC Davis researchers want to ask questions, such as: Why are more eligible patients not being screened? What is the best way to reach out to smokers and former smokers to encourage them to be screened?

The Enhancing Lung Cancer Screening for Eligible Patients Through Human-centered Intervention or ELFE study participants must be between the ages of 50 and 80 and eligible for lung cancer screening. Under new guide lines, anyone in that age group who has smoked at least 20 “pack-years” and either still smokes or quit within the past 15 years is eligible for screening. A “pack-year” means smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for a year or an equivalent amount.

The study will take no more than an hour of time, and a gift card will be given as a thank you. Funding for the study came from the Victory Over Cancer Foundation.