June 5, 2003

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

Lung Cancer Screening Study Seeks Minorities
African Americans Especially at Risk for Lung Cancer

Current and former smokers ages 55 to 74, especially African Americans, are needed for a national study to learn if screening at-risk individuals with either CT scans or chest X-rays before they have symptoms can reduce deaths from lung cancer. The study, called the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and is enrolling 50,000 participants at Hopkins and 29 other sites throughout the United States.

Last year, in Maryland alone, about 3,200 people developed lung cancer and some 2,900 died of it, according to the NCI. A disproportionate number of these patients are African Americans. The death rate from lung cancer among African American is 106 per 100,000 individuals; it's 74 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic whites, according to NCI data.

"Lung cancer kills more people than cancers of the breast, prostate, colon and pancreas combined, and will claim nearly 155,000 lives this year in the United States," says Elliot Fishman, M.D., a Johns Hopkins professor of radiology and the principal investigator of the lung cancer study at Hopkins. "Our hope is that this study will lead to saving lives by finding better ways to diagnose this disease in its earliest stages when treatment is thought to be most effective."

Participants in the randomized, controlled, "gold standard" study will be assigned to receive either a chest X-ray or a CT scan 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.

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 three-dimensional model of the lungs. More than half of the hospitals in the United States own spiral CT machines 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.

Participants in the NLST receive lung cancer screenings with either X-ray or CT scan free of charge. They also will receive $40 for participating in the study and will receive referrals to smoking cessation programs if they are interested in quitting smoking. Men and women can participate in the NLST if they meet the following requirements:

· Are current or former cigarette 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.

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 or http://www.hopkinskimmelcancercenter.org/index.cfm.

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