Mission: Possible: Big Pharmas back star-fronted lung cancer awareness push

A who’s who of biopharma companies have backed a push to raise awareness about lung cancer among Hispanic and Latino Americans, funding a project that has enlisted a Mission: Impossible star to educate the community about risk factors, early warning signs and screening. 

Bristol Myers Squibb is partly funding the Lung Cancer Research Foundation’s (LCRF) campaign, which is also supported by from grants from Amgen, Lilly Oncology, Regeneron, Daiichi Sankyo, Pfizer, Genentech, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Merck. The companies are funding “Know Your Risk: A Hispanic and Latino American's Guide to Lung Cancer,” a project LCRF launched at the Visioning Summit gala event last week.

The gala event, presented by the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, provided the launchpad for a disease awareness push that could help address healthcare disparities. Latinos have a lower incidence of lung cancer than non-Latino white Americans but are 15% less likely to be diagnosed early and 28% more likely to not receive any treatment. 

To address the disparities, the LCRF has put together a program designed to educate Hispanic and Latino Americans about the risk factors associated with lung cancer, signs and symptoms to be aware of and the value of screening as a way to detect tumors early. The campaign includes a documentary featuring Dana Farber thoracic oncologist Narjust Florez and PSAs starring the actor Esai Morales.

“I hid my mother's cigarettes from her when I was a child. I have learned since then how many other exposures put people at risk for lung cancer. As a proud Hispanic American, I am honored to bring this message to my community and to be the face of this very important campaign,” Morales said. The actor was recently on cinema screens as the antagonist in the latest Mission: Impossible movie.

The LCRF is providing Spanish-language educational resources about lung cancer for patients and their caregivers, although its website is currently in English and says Spanish-language translations of written and video content are coming soon.