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Release: Sept. 18, 2002

UI Health Care researchers to study lung cancer screening methods

University of Iowa Health Care researchers from the departments of internal medicine and radiology will help conduct a large clinical trial of lung cancer screening methods to test their potential for detecting the disease in its early stages.

The researchers will randomly assign participants to receive either a chest X-ray or spiral CT scan every year for three years. After the first three years of the study, research teams will track the participants through the mail and with telephone calls.

"What we hope to learn is if one of these methods – the chest X-ray or a spiral CT scan – is better at detecting clinically relevant small abnormalities in the lungs," explained Geoffrey McLennan, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine and a pulmonologist at UI Hospitals and Clinics. "Even more importantly, we also hope to learn if detecting those small abnormalities will then actually allow us to treat the disease more effectively and reduce the number of lung cancer deaths."

Some 40 research centers across the nation will enroll 50,000 people in the study, which is scheduled to last eight years. The researchers are inviting men and women, between ages 55 and 74 and who are a high risk for lung cancer because of their smoking history, to consider participating in the trial.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is sponsoring the National Lung Screening Trial. McLennan will serve as the UI's principal investigator. Brian Mullan, M.D., UI assistant professor of radiology, will serve as co-principal investigator.

"This is a very important study," Mullan said. "An estimated 169,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year alone, and 155,000 of them will die of the disease."

For more information about the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, contact the NCI by calling toll free (800) 4-CANCER or the Cancer Information Service of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI at (319) 356-3000 or toll free (800) 237-1225. Information is also available online at and

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at