Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia Presbyterian Launches Large-Scale Study On The Use Of Cat Scans In Early-Stage Lung Cancer Screening

New York, NY – August 8, 2001 – The Department of Radiology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (CPMC) has been chosen as a test site for a large-scale study on the use of CAT scans in screening for early-stage lung cancer. Columbia Presbyterian is one out of 11 New York-based institutions that have been selected for this statewide project (known as the New York Early Cancer Action Project, or NY-ELCAP), which will focus on testing up to 10,000 high-risk New Yorkers for the disease in its earliest and most treatable phases. The study also will give researchers an opportunity to look closely at the possible genetic and environmental causes of lung cancer.
“This study doesn’t just have significance for researchers in a lab, it could make a tangible and immediate difference in the lives of people at high risk for lung cancer,” said CPMC principal investigator John H.M. Austin, M.D., professor of radiology at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and director of the division of chest radiology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. “The potential of this procedure to save lives at an early stage of lung cancer development is considerable.”
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States, killing 160,000 Americans each year. This total is more than the number of fatalities for breast, prostate, and colon cancer—the next three leading causes of cancer-related deaths—combined. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 12 percent but can jump to and exceed 70 percent if cancer nodules are detected and removed early enough.
To qualify for the study, participants must be smokers or ex-smokers aged 60 and over with a one-pack-per-day habit for 10 years (or a two-pack-per-day habit for five years), have no history of cancer, and be in generally good health. The individuals who meet the criteria for the study will receive two quick, safe, and painless chest CAT scans at one-year intervals—at no cost to them. In return, participants will be asked to complete a questionnaire, donate blood, and undergo lab tests as part of the screening study. If necessary and appropriate, patients also will be invited to participate in a comprehensive smoking-cessation program and referred for immediate follow-up medical consultations.
NY-ELCAP is distinguished by its commitment to serving the widest segment of the public as possible—with a specific focus on reaching out to minority populations, largely because research has shown that lung cancer affects minorities at disproportionately high rates. (For example, in the mid-1990s, the mortality rate among African-American men with lung cancer was nearly double that of Caucasian men with the disease.)
NY-ELCAP is sponsored by the Academic Medicine Development Corporation (AMDeC), a New York-based consortium of academic medical centers, medical schools and major research institutions that was created in 1997 to address several critical challenges related to the future of biomedical research statewide. NY-ELCAP has also received more than $6.5 million in financial support from a number of noteworthy state organizations—including Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the New York State Legislature, the Starr Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and the City of New York (whose contribution was allocated from a portion of a settlement fund resulting from litigation against tobacco manufacturers).
Prospective study participants can contact Columbia Presbyterian directly at 212-305-6849 for more information or to enroll.

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