JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs

September 18, 2002
MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Stephenson
PHONE: 410-955-5384
E-MAIL: gstephenson@jhmi.edu

Johns Hopkins Begins Enrolling Current and Former Smokers in New National CT Lung Cancer Screening Trial 

Current and former smokers are needed for a new study to learn if screening people with either CT scans or chest X-ray before they have symptoms can reduce deaths from lung cancer. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), launched today by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), will enroll 50,000 participants and take place at Hopkins and 29 other sites throughout the United States.

Participants in the randomized, controlled, "gold standard" study will be assigned to get either a chest X-ray or a CT once a year for three years. Researchers will continue to contact participants annually to monitor their health until 2009.

By the time of conventional diagnosis, in 15 percent to 30 percent of cases lung cancers have already spread. Spiral CT, a technology introduced in the 1990s, can pick up tumors well under 1 centimeter (cm) in size, while chest X-rays detect tumors about 1 to 2 cm in size.

"Conventional wisdom suggests that the smaller the tumor when it is found, the more likely the chance of survival—but that remains to be proven," said American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) researcher and NLST co-director Denise Aberle, M.D., from the University of California Los Angeles. "Because of the number of individuals participating and because it is a randomized, controlled trial, NLST will be able to provide the evidence needed to determine whether spiral CT scans are better than chest X-rays at reducing a person's chances of dying from lung cancer."

"Lung cancer kills more people than cancers of the breast, prostate, colon and pancreas combined, and will claim nearly 155,000 lives this year," said Elliot Fishman, M.D., professor of radiology at the Hopkins Department of Radiology. "Our hope is that this study will lead to saving lives." In Maryland, 3,200 people will get lung cancer in 2002 and 2,900 will die of it, according to the NCI.

To carry out the trial, NCI is using two research networks funded by the Institute: the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, and ACRIN, a network of researchers who conduct imaging studies. NCI is collaborating with the American Cancer Society to organize grassroots recruitment efforts at NLST sites.

"NLST is important because there are more than 90 million current and former smokers in the United States at high risk for lung cancer, and death rates for this disease, unlike many other cancers, have not declined," said NLST co-director John Gohagan, Ph.D., of NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention. "Cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor in the development of lung cancer."

Spiral CT uses X-rays to scan the entire chest in about 15 to 25 seconds, during a single breath hold. A computer creates images from the scan, assembling them into a 3-dimensional model of the lungs. More than half of the hospitals in the United States own a spiral CT machine and routinely use them for determining how advanced the cancer is after diagnosis. Recently some hospitals have begun using spiral CT scans to find smaller lung cancers in smokers and former smokers, although no scientific evidence to date has shown that such screening, or even early detection of lung cancer, actually saves lives.

In addition to the lung cancer screenings, some NLST centers will collect blood, urine and sputum. These samples will be used for future research to test for biomarkers that may someday help doctors better diagnose lung cancer.

Participants in NLST will receive lung cancer screenings free of charge. Men and women can participate in NLST if they meet the following requirements:

· Are current or former smokers ages 55 to 74
· Have never had lung cancer and have not had any cancer within the last five years (except some skin cancers or in situ cancers)
· Are not currently enrolled in any other cancer screening or cancer prevention trial
· Have not had a CT scan of the chest or lungs within the last 18 months.

Additionally, participants can receive referrals to smoking cessation programs if they are interested in quitting smoking.

To find out more about the NLST study at Hopkins, or to arrange an interview with Elliot Fishman, M.D., members of the media may call Gary Stephenson at 410-955-5384 or email gstephenson@jhmi.edu.

People interested in participating in the study should contact Elliot Fishman, M.D. at (410) 955-5173 or email efishman@jhmi.edu.

For additional information about NLST:

· Call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service toll-free, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) for information in English or Spanish. The number for callers with TTY equipment is 1-800-332-8615
· Log on to http://cancer.gov/NLST

The National Cancer Institute is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information about cancer, visit NCI's Web site at http://cancer.gov


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