OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Health leaders have been warning about the dangers of lung cancer for years, but now a new award will allow a cancer center to come to those in need.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Board of Directors awarded more than $1.7 million to the Stephenson Cancer Center.

The cancer center says it will develop the Oklahoma Mobile Lung Cancer Screening Action Network, which will bring medically equipped buses to communities to screen residents for lung cancer.

“TSET’s partnership with the Stephenson Cancer Center has profoundly affected the lives of countless Oklahomans through their support of access to cancer clinical trials and cancer research,” said Dr. Mannel, SCC director. “The LUNG SCAN program builds on this by bringing state of the art mobile screening for lung cancer to communities throughout Oklahoma.”

Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the United States. Although it is treatable if found early, it is often discovered long after it has spread.

New guidelines released last year recommend annual screenings for people who have smoked a pack a day for 20 years or more, are 50 or older, and still smoke or quit smoking in the past 15 years.

Oklahoma’s rate for lung cancer screening is 5th worst in the nation, and the state has the highest rate of death after diagnosis.

“Many Oklahomans, especially those living in rural areas, lack easy access to hospitals that offer lung cancer screening,” said Marshall Snipes, chair of the TSET Board of Directors. “This new program through Stephenson Cancer Center will bring lifesaving cancer screening to parts of rural Oklahoma where it’s most needed.”

Screenings are fully covered by public and private insurance.

For those who test positive, Oklahoma LUNG SCAN will connect them to follow-up testing and treatment.

The program will begin next year and be fully implemented by 2028.