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Washington, DC [February 16, 2012]--Four of the leading organizations representing veterans - AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars - testified before Congress yesterday on their annual budget request which for the fifth year in a row includes CT screening for veterans at high risk for lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA)’s Chairman of the Board, retired U.S. Navy Admiral T. Joseph Lopez, praised the VSO’s for calling on Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs to institute screening and urged immediate action.
“We know now that CT screening can save thousands of lives a year among veterans if this is implemented correctly” he said. “And the VA, thanks to the advanced medical health record capability and imaging equipment that Congress has provided over the years, can take the lead and set the gold standard nationally for how to maximize the life-saving potential of screening at the lowest possible risk and cost.”
The formal request, presented to Congress yesterday, called the Independent Budget, notes that studies from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War indicate veterans are at higher risk of dying of lung cancer than the civilian population because of higher smoking rates and exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and pollutants during active duty.
“Of course veterans have a higher smoking rate,” Admiral Lopez said. “Cigarettes were practically pushed on them and doled out free in K rations until 1976. They are still readily available at reduced cost to active duty and retired personnel.”
“Add to that everything else they have been exposed to during active duty and it becomes very clear that screening veterans at high risk for lung cancer is a medical and moral responsibility that cannot be ignored,” he said.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer among veterans, civilians and every ethnic group, causing more deaths each year than the combined total of breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers. Symptoms do not usually become obvious until late stage and death frequently occurs within weeks or months of diagnosis.
LCA is an advisor on the Independent Budget which has supported lung cancer screening for veterans.
Last week, LCA also officially released its National Framework for Lung Cancer Screening Excellence (www.lungcanceralliance.org/screening) which lists the rights of those at risk for lung cancer and guiding principles for screening sites.
To view the Lung Cancer section of the Independent Budget, please click here.
The entire Independent Budget can be viewed at http://www.independentbudget.org/.
Lung Cancer Alliance, www.lungcanceralliance.org, provides support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer. LCA is committed to reversing decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for lung cancer, elevating awareness and changing health policy at both the federal and state level.
Follow Lung Cancer Alliance on Facebook: www.facebook.com/lungcanceralliance.