Lung Bus


Over the past 25 years, there have been advancements in diagnosis and treatment for many kinds of cancer. However, up until the last five years the same was not true for lung cancer. Early detection has led to a 20 percent increase in survivability.

The West Virginia University Cancer Institute (WVUCI) wants to address the issue by providing mobile unit that travels throughout West Virginia (WV) providing screenings for lung cancer. The overall goal for the WVUCI is to decrease lung cancer mortality and improve early diagnosis of lung cancer. We can do this by providing access to screenings and tobacco cessation outreach and education to all West Virginians who meet the criteria to increase survivability.

Lung Cancer

Nationally, lung cancer is the second most-commonly-diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, with African Americans suffering significantly higher incidence and mortality rates and with marked regional variations. New data from the National Minority Quality Forum indicate that 77% of all lung cancer cases reside in 20% of all zip codes.

In West Virginia, approximately 2,003 people are diagnosed and 1,507 die of lung cancer each year.

According to the WV Cancer Registry and Health Statistics Center:

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths and deaths overall in WV
  • WV has a higher rate of lung cancer than the nation as a whole;
  • Lung cancer kills more people in WV than breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers combined;
  • Nearly one in three of all cancer deaths in WV are from lung cancer; and
  • Lung cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and women combined, with
  • Several risk factors for lung cancer: smoking, secondhand smoke, radon, other an average of 2,010 new cases diagnosed each year.

Lung Cancer Screening

There are environmental substances, personal or family history of lung cancer, and prior radiation to chest wall. These are risk factors, which make it critical for WVUCI to provide an easy way for West Virginians to receive a lung cancer screening. 

The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (also called a low-dose CT scan, or LDCT). In this test, an X-ray machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to make detailed pictures of the lungs.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual LDCT screening for lung cancer for adults who are:

  • 55-80 years of age (varies based on insurance)
  • Asymptomatic
  • Adults who have a tobacco smoking history of one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, or any other combination that would equal 30 pack-years
  • A current smoker or one who has quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • Receive a written order for lung cancer screening with LDCT

Why Does West Virginia Need Mobile Lung Cancer Screening?

  • With lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in West Virginia where 18% of all new cancers are lung cancers, the WVUCI wants to remove any barriers for those who need screening for lung cancer to increase their survivability.
  • Each year in West Virginia, approximately 2,003 people are diagnosed with lung cancer and 1,507 people die of lung cancer. Half of those diagnosed have distant metastasis.
  • With LDCT, lung cancer can be found earlier, increasing treatment options, quality of life and life span for those diagnosed with lung cancer. (WV Cancer Registry, 2016).
  • The WVUCI wants to increase lung cancer screening among low-income and limited-resourced individuals across West Virginia. A mobile unit will provide access to lung cancer screening and provide tobacco cessation education and outreach programs.

The Mobile Lung Cancer Screening Unit

The WVUCI plans to repurpose the former Bonnie’s Bus used for the Bonnie’s Wells Wilson Mobile Mammography Program made possible by a pledge from Jo and Ben Statler in October 2007.  After nine years of operating the mobile bus, the program has reached a point of transition and was upgraded with the newest technology. This new technology required that the Bonnie’s Bus be increased in size. 

The Bonnie’s Bus program upgrade provides an opportunity for the lung cancer-screening program to outfit the former Bonnie’s Bus chassis, which is in excellent working order, to be repurposed as another mobile medical unit. There is significant interest at the WVU Health Sciences Center in developing a program for mobile lung cancer screening using LCDT, which requires a need to raise funds to refit the mobile mammography bus to be a lung cancer screening unit.

Based on our experience with the Bonnie’s Bus mobile program, we learned much that can be applied to the new lung cancer screening mobile program. The bus will travel to rural Appalachian communities in West Virginia. Based on this experience, we project that we will screen 16 individuals for lung cancer on this mobile unit 60 days per year in year one increasing each year to a maximum of 120 days per year in year 5 of operation.

For more information about supporting the WVU Cancer Institute, please contact:

Scarlett K. Schneider, Ph.D. 
Senior Director of Development
WVU Cancer Institute