By Melba Newsome
Improving lung cancer outcomes in Black communities will take more than lowering the screening age, experts say. Disparities are present in everything from the studies that inform when people should get checked to the availability of care in rural areas.
During a routine visit to the Good Samaritan Clinic in Morganton, North Carolina, in 2018, Herbert Buff casually mentioned that he sometimes had trouble breathing.
He was 55 years old and a decades-long smoker. So the doctor recommended that Buff schedule time on a 35-foot-long bus operated by the Levine Cancer Institute that would roll through town later that week offering free lung-cancer screenings.
Buff found the “lung bus” concept odd, but he’s glad he hopped on.
“I learned that you can have lung cancer and not even know it,” said Buff, who was diagnosed at stage 1 by doctors in the rolling clinic. “The early screening might have saved my life. It might’ve given me quite a few more years.”
The lung bus is a big draw in this rural area of western North Carolina because some people aren’t comfortable going — and in many cases have no access — to a hospital or doctor’s office,...