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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 19, 2003

UI Health Care Studies Lung Cancer Detection Methods

University of Iowa Health Care researchers have already enrolled more than 500 current and former smokers in the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) to determine if the early detection of small tumors in the lungs will help save lives. Investigators will likely stop enrolling new participants in early 2004.

Specialists from the departments of internal medicine and radiology are helping conduct the nationwide clinical trial of lung cancer screening methods to test their potential for detecting the disease in its early stages and for improving survival.

The researchers 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 every six months for the next six to eight years.

"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 in 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."

Thirty research centers across the nation are enrolling 50,000 people in the study. The researchers are inviting men and women between the ages of 55 and 74 who are at 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 is the UI's principal investigator, and Brian Mullan, M.D., UI associate professor and vice-chair in radiology, is serving 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."

"We are delighted that so many people have already joined the study," McLennan said. "If people at risk for lung cancer want to take the opportunity to enroll in the study, they need to do so in the next few months before enrollment stops."

For more information about the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, contact the Cancer Information Service of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI at 319-356-3000 or 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

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room 8798 JPP, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, Writer, 319-356-3945,