National Cancer Institute Launches Lung Screening Study

December 1, 2000
Oncology, ONCOLOGY Vol 14 No 12, Volume 14, Issue 12

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is recruiting 3,000 current and former smokers for its Lung Screening Study, a year-long study of spiral computed tomography (CT) scans for lung cancer screening. Although the study will not determine if the

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is recruiting 3,000 currentand former smokers for its Lung Screening Study, a year-long study of spiralcomputed tomography (CT) scans for lung cancer screening. Although the studywill not determine if the scans save lives, it will evaluate the feasibility ofa larger, longer study to that end.

During September and October, six screening centers across thecountry recruited 500 people each and randomly assigned them to receive either aspiral CT scan or a chest x-ray. Researchers will first determine thewillingness of smokers and former smokers to participate in a randomized study.They will then compare the lung cancer detection rate of each test, measure howmuch and what kind of medical follow-up is needed for positive or ambiguousresults, and track how frequently participants receive spiral CT scans outsideof the study.

Follow-up on Scans

All this knowledge is crucial for the design of larger, moredefinitive studies, said John Gohagan, phd, chief of the Early DetectionResearch Group in NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention and the investigatorheading the study. "In a relatively quick time frame, we will learn ifsmokers are willing to be randomized to receive something other than a spiral CTscan. We will also learn about the medical follow-up of people who have thescans, how extensive and expensive it tends to be," he said.

Board-certified radiologists will review each CT scan and x-ray,and results will be mailed to participants and their physicians within 3 weeksof the screen. For those with positive chest x-rays, the screening center willrecommend standard follow-up care. Because no such standard of care exists forspiral CT scans, participants with suspicious scans will be referred to theirprimary care physician and advised to consult a specialist for follow-up.

Evidence from early studies suggests that spiral CT scans detectsmall lung cancers, often at the edges of the lungs. However, whether findingthese tumors actually saves lives remains to be determined. Thorough review ofthe results from the Lung Screening Study will help researchers decide iffurther study is feasible.

For more information about the Lung Screening Study, call NCI’sCancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

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