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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 12, 2003

Additional Smokers Needed For National Lung Screening Trial

Researchers at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are seeking to recruit current and former smokers, ages 55 to 74, to participate in the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), the largest trial ever for individuals at risk for lung cancer. Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, the trial will test if screening people with either spiral computed tomography (CT) or chest X-ray before they have symptoms might reduce deaths from lung cancer.

To date, nearly 42,000 participants are enrolled in the trial at more than 30 study sites across the United States. The current goal is to recruit 50,000 individuals to participate in the trial. Although participation is strong, individuals who are eligible are encouraged to join now. Participants will have their health monitored until 2009. There are an estimated 90 million current and former smokers in the United States, all at risk for lung cancer.

"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for both men and women," said principal investigator Geoffrey McLennan, M.D., from the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI. "Lung cancer kills more people than cancers of the breast, prostate, colon and pancreas combined, and about 157,200 Americans will die of lung cancer in 2003. The sooner we recruit additional participants for this trial, the sooner we will be able to determine which test, spiral CT or chest x-ray, is better at reducing a person's chance of dying from the disease."

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

-- Are current or former heavy 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

Chest X-rays detect tumors about one to two centimeter (cm) in size. Spiral CT, a technology introduced in the 1990s, produces a three-dimensional image of the lung and can detect nodules well under one cm in size. However, the majority of CT-detected nodules are benign, and there is no scientific evidence to date that the detection of small lung cancers with CT, or screening with either method, actually saves lives. The NLST is designed to help measure the effectiveness of these diagnostic tools.

Brian Mullan, M.D., associate professor (clinical) of radiology in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics, 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, but we need even more people to enroll," said McLennan, UI professor of internal medicine. "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."

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to learn more about lung cancer and clinical trials, and to support this important effort to reduce untimely deaths from this disease.

For more information about NLST, please contact the Cancer Information Service of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI toll free at 1-800-237-1225.

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

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CONTACT(S): Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,