Lung Association Brings Attention to Early Cancer Detection

In order to raise awareness around a new early-detection lung cancer screening, the American Lung Association launched a new campaign.

Using video, print ads, a quiz, and other tactics, the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative and the Ad Council are encouraging at-risk individuals to undergo a new early-detection lung cancer screening.

Being screened early is really critical to increasing the survival rate and the options for treatment.

“The reason that the lung association is doing this is that lung cancer is the number-one cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S.,” said Jeff Seyler, ALA Executive Vice President, Northeast Region. “It takes more life than any other cancer, which a lot of people aren’t aware of. And one reason why lung cancer is so deadly is because it’s often diagnosed at a later stage, and at that point, there are fewer treatment options available. So being screened early is really critical to increasing the survival rate and the options for treatment.”

The Saved by the Scan campaign, which kicked off on World Lung Cancer Day on August 1 with representatives from ALA and the Ad Council ringing the Nasdaq bell, focuses on the low-dose CT scan that can detect lung cancer before symptoms appear. Through the use of video, social media, print and outdoor ads, and a quiz that helps people determine if they’re eligible for the scan, it aims to drive the 9 million high-risk individuals in the U.S. to get tested.

The 30-second PSA— targeted at former smokers and aired on television and online—was shot by Academy-Award nominee Rodrigo Prieto and aired on loop for an hour in Times Square after the kickoff. “We really wanted to go to market with a very professional and high-quality video because we felt that that would be the most engaging and people would notice it more,” driving them to take the quiz or ask a doctor about the scan, Seyler said.

ALA is also taking other measures to get the word out, including hosting a satellite media tour with its CEO Harold P. Wimmer and a doctor specializing in radiation oncology. In addition, it’s talking to celebrities like Al Roker, who showed support for the campaign on Twitter.

“This campaign is vital to addressing one of the most overlooked and deadly health crises of our time,” Ad Council CEO and President Lisa Sherman said in a press release. “We know that this new compelling campaign will empower people at risk, or who have loved ones at risk, to get screened and ultimately save lives.”

Seyler explained that the secret to gaining traction is being very clear about the call to action. But associations that have a clear message also need to ensure they reach the right audience by conducting research. For example, after ALA’s research uncovered that awareness of early detection was particularly low among former smokers—who are much less likely to have doctors direct them to lung cancer resources—the organization decided to target former smokers in its video.

“I think really having that sound research helped us a lot in making sure that we weren’t just spraying the public with a bunch of messages, but really getting the right message out there and to the right audience,” he said.

An image from a Saved by the Scan public-service ad. (YouTube)

Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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