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Lung Cancer Alliance Again Salutes NCI for its Now Published Work on Lung Cancer Screening Study Which Proved a 20 Percent Mortality Benefit for Those at Risk for Lung Cancer Using CT Scans

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) congratulated the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on the publishing of additional and extensive data from its National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).  

The NLST, one of the largest and most expensive clinical trials ever held, was designed to evaluate CT screening compared to chest x-ray as a way to reduce lung cancer deaths, which currently account for nearly a third of all cancer fatalities.

The eight year trial was stopped last November as soon as it became evident that giving CT scans to current and former smokers before they had symptoms could reduce the number of people who died of lung cancer by over 20% as compared to chest x-rays. Screening with chest x-rays, the comparison arm in the NLST and the subject of several previous trials, again failed to show a benefit.

The additional data released by NCI today indicated that few harms resulted from CT screening and the rate of complications from the diagnostic work up was less than 2%.

"Today's publication gives researchers, policy makers, and the public full access to primary findings from the NLST to guide the use of low-dose helical CT scanning by current and former smokers," said Harold Varmus, MD, NCI Director.  

Laurie Fenton Ambrose, LCA President & CEO, thanked NCI for its investment in the trial which, because of the overwhelming number of lung cancer deaths that occur each year, has the potential to bring about the biggest single reduction ever in overall cancer mortality.

Fenton Ambrose said, "With the additional data NCI released today, and with more still being analyzed, along with the data continuing to be generated in on-going lung cancer CT screening research around the world, we can accelerate efforts to insure that this benefit is optimized in a safe, efficient and equitable way to those at risk for lung cancer and help define more clearly who will benefit most from being screened."

Over 53,000 people participated in the NLST trial which focused only on current and former smokers between the ages of 55 and 74. 

Fenton Ambrose continued, "That description fits the majority of new patients currently being diagnosed with lung cancer so it will be extremely important that screening includes aggressive tobacco cessation counseling and reinforcement for those who have already quit," she said.

The NCI paper published today builds upon the initial data announced in November 2010, which LCA hailed as a "seminal moment for the lung cancer community."

"This is a watershed time in the war on cancer," said James L. Mulshine, MD, LCA Board Member, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Associate Provost for Research & VP, Rush University Medical Center.  "The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) will be reviewing the remarkable results of the NLST trial. This gives us time to conduct a critical dialogue around societal issues with CT-based lung cancer screening and in parallel proceed with measures to ensure those at risk will have access to high quality, efficient and economical screening resources."  

Yesterday, LCA went live with the first website dedicated to guidance for those considering being screened for lung cancer, "Screen for Lung"  

"We want to help people understand that screening is not a simple, one step procedure, but a process that should only be done by experienced teams and credentialed sites," said Fenton Ambrose, noting that the website would be updated as additional refinements to the screening process become available. 

LCA is also urging Congress to approve pilot screening programs around the country that will include a broader, more diverse population than those who participated in the NLST.

Lung Cancer Alliance,, is the only national non-profit dedicated to providing support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer.  LCA is committed to reversing decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for lung cancer, elevating awareness and changing health policy.

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Contact: Kay Cofrancesco

SOURCE Lung Cancer Alliance
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