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Unlike other screenings, lung cancer screening is new and patients need to know what happens next, according to Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos.
Panagis Galiatsatos, MD, MSH, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University discussed the importance of improving lung cancer screenings, during a discussion at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2023 International Conference in Washington, DC.
Galiatsatos emphasized this is especially needed among minority populations and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals because they are at higher risk of developing lung cancer and experiencing severe outcomes.
"Simply just telling the primary care physicians 'Oh, make sure you talk about it and get it done,' still is not going to reach that same population," he said in an interview. "We need a parallel in some parts to what mammograms did for breast cancer or colonoscopy did for colorectal (cancer). We need to do better community messaging."
To ensure communities are aware of, and have access to screenings for lung cancer, Galiatsatos suggested the implementation of strategies that focus on the needs of each specific community.
"Each community's going to need different insight in different resources to achieve that goal of lung cancer screening. If I work with a faith-based organization, I usually talk to a few spiritual leaders because of their formal hierarchical position of that organization, they'll be able to disseminate that message pretty effectively, more than any physician ever could," Galiatsatos explained. "And then begin to get their congregation motivated, interested, and hopefully, ultimately, complete that level of screening."
For the next approach, he urged healthcare professionals to take it a step further than spreading awareness and to figure out why patients might be resistant to screening by getting involved with that community.
"That's the part that I think a lot of us fail to realize. You must be prepared to let them know what happens next because you're going to come across people who have done (screening) and will present some sabotage planning not to pursue it," Galiatsatos said.
"So, recognize that we need to prepare for that clinical algorithm, and I say this because unlike the mammograms and colonoscopies with 30 plus years of experience, (lung cancer screening) has been going on for a few years and so we need to be mindful that for many they don't know what happens next and we need to walk them through that."