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Lung Cancer Alliance Program Helps Investigate A New Approach For Measuring Lung Cancer Risk In Smokers And Non-Smokers

Washington, DC [Monday, June 29, 2010] --The pilot program for Lung Cancer Alliance's (LCA) website for patient donated scans is helping open the door to a potentially new method for evaluating lung cancer risk in smokers as well as non-smokers.

In a paper published in the July issue of Academic Radiology, researchers showed that a high resolution CT scan to check for calcification in the lungs coupled with a pulmonary function test to measure lung capacity could be used to numerically calculate an individual's risk of developing lung cancer.

The research was based on an analysis of 108 patients that participated in the University of Navarra lung cancer screening study, which is participating in the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP).

The study showed that a new approach to measuring lung cancer risk using low dose CT and spirometry holds promise for current and former smokers. The paper provides the first evidence that airway bifurcations, which have been known to receive high amounts of toxic exposure from cigarette smoke and environmental pollutants, are exhibiting higher calcification in a relationship with a patient’s lung function.

An unanswered question resulting from this study is whether the risk assessment approach will work for never smokers. However, a CT dataset donated by a never smoker lung cancer patient to LCA’s Give a Scan pilot project is offering initial anecdotal evidence that the new risk assessment approach may help with lung cancer risk assessment for individuals that have never smoked.

Give a Scan case number P0006 is a case of a never smoker lung cancer patient with excellent lung function and extremely high calcification levels at upper airway bifurcations. This signature in CT and pulmonary function data was found to be associated with high lung cancer risk, as reported in the Academic Radiology paper. Given the potential to help identify high risk patients, the Give a Scan P0006 data has been presented and discussed by researchers at several international lung cancer conferences. Although further research and clinical study is needed to determine the efficacy of the new lung cancer risk assessment approach, Give a Scan data is helping drive further study into the utility of a new approach for lung cancer risk assessment.

"While a lot more work has to be done to validate the findings and develop an accurate test, this paper is an immediate confirmation of the potential of the Give a Scan program and the power patients themselves can have in driving research," said Laurie Fenton Ambrose,  LCA President & CEO.

Under the new Give a Scan program which was officially launched this month, LCA maintains an open access website which houses patient donated data that can be accessed by researchers around the world at no charge.

While lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the United States and world-wide, the persistent under funding of lung cancer research has kept its survival rate of 15% near its historic low of 13%, and mortality rate at 85% and deterred researchers from the entering the field.

"With Give a Scan, patients are saying to the research community: 'Here are our scans. Here is your raw material. Please help, ' " Fenton Ambrose said. 

For more information about Give a Scan go to: www.lungcanceralliance.org/giveascan.

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