Lung Cancer Awareness Month kicks off with announcement of a new resource to impact Hoosiers statewideINDIANAPOLIS–A mobile lung cancer screening program will soon take life-saving screenings to eligible high-risk Hoosiers statewide, thanks to a generous $4.5 million gift from the Tom and Julie Wood Family Foundation that will include matching dollars from Indiana University Health, bringing its impact to $8.5 million.
The program leverages the collaborative partnership between IU Health and the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. The gift was made jointly to IU Health Foundation and the Indiana University Foundation as it will support both patient care and research efforts focused on enhancing lung cancer screening and lowering lung cancer incidence and deaths.
Nasser Hanna, MD made the announcement at this morning’s third annual meeting of End Lung Cancer Now, an initiative of the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. Hanna is the Tom and Julie Wood Family Foundation Professor of Lung Cancer Clinical Research at IU School of Medicine and the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and founder of End Lung Cancer Now. He’s also an IU Health lung cancer physician.
“We’re beyond thrilled that the Wood Family Foundation is making this mobile resource available to Hoosiers. Lung cancer screening unequivocally saves lives by catching it in its earliest and most treatable stages,” Hanna said. “All of us at the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and IU Health know how valuable these painless and safe imaging tests will be for those at risk of lung cancer–especially those who face barriers to accessing such screenings.”
Julie Wood, the Wood family matriarch, said the gift is one in a series of gifts made in memory of her late husband, Indianapolis auto executive Tom Wood, who died of lung cancer in 2010.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to continue our longtime support of the cancer center through this gift,” she said. “We know Tom would be so pleased to see us doing what we can to save the lives of Hoosiers who face this terrible disease.”
The mobile program, the only one of its kind in Indiana, is expected to screen its first patient in 2025. The gift will support the build-out of the mobile CT scanner unit as well as the first year of patient care resources, staffing, operating and marketing expenses. Mobile programs allow increased access to cancer screening and prevention by bringing care to the community, rather than requiring travel to medical appointments at hospitals and healthcare centers. This is especially helpful to people in rural areas without easy access to such tests.
“We are grateful for this significant gift from the Wood Family Foundation,” said Ryan Nagy, MD, president of IU Health Methodist and University Hospitals. “Their support will allow IU Health and the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center to stand up a unique program which will support communities across the state reaching more broadly than we have previously.”
IU Health will match $4 million of the gift, the portion dedicated to the mobile screening program, making the gift’s total impact $8.5 million. The contribution is a lead gift to All the Difference: The Campaign for Indiana University Health, the statewide fundraising campaign recently announced by IU Health Foundation.
“IU Health’s size and reach give us a powerful opportunity–and a great responsibility–to lead in improving the health of Hoosiers,” said Crystal Miller, IU Health Foundation president and IU Health chief philanthropy officer. “But we can only do that with the support of visionary philanthropists like the Wood family. This gift will literally save lives, and that is the greatest impact a donor can make. I am grateful to the Woods for their foresight and generosity.”
Kelvin Lee, MD, director of the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, added, “We are enormously grateful to the Wood Family Foundation for their ongoing focus on lung cancer–not only the #1 cancer killer of Hoosiers but of everyone around the globe. Mobile lung cancer screening will save lives by bringing this painless, nonintrusive diagnostic tool close to Hoosiers’ homes. We are committed to further research focused on refining our screening techniques and developing strategies to lessen lung cancer incidence and death.”
Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, killing more people than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer–the second-, third-, and fourth-leading cancer killers–combined. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death.
However, with early detection, done with low-dose CAT or CT scans, the mortality rate caused by lung cancer can be decreased by 20 percent. Screenings are painless and take only a few minutes. In Indiana, only 7 percent of those at high risk were screened, according to 2022 data from the American Lung Association.
Annual lung cancer screenings are recommended for adults ages 50 to 80 with a smoking history of at least 20 pack-years and who smoke now or quit within the past 15 years.
A pack-year describes how many cigarettes a person has smoked in their lifetime at 20 cigarettes per pack. For example, smoking an average of one pack per day for 20 years equals 20 pack-years.
Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center
Indiana University Health
About the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and one of only 56 in the nation. The prestigious comprehensive designation recognizes the center’s excellence in basic, clinical, and population research, its outstanding educational activities, and its effective community outreach program across the state. It is also one of only 33 members of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. As a member, the center’s physicians have a role in determining the recognized standard of clinical care for cancer patients. The center is the central hub for cancer research and education across Indiana University.
About Indiana University Health
Named the "#1 Hospital in Indiana" by U.S. News & World Report, Indiana University Health is dedicated to providing a unified standard of preeminent, patient-centered care. A unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine–one of the nation's leading medical schools–gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology. Learn more at iuhealth.org.
About IU Health Foundation
IU Health Foundation leverages the power of philanthropy to support the IU Health mission of making Indiana one of the nation’s healthiest states. When you give to IU Health, you aren’t just making a donation—you’re making All the Difference. To learn more, visit iuhealthfoundation.org.