Upstate News

February 26, 2001
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

SUNY Upstate seeks participants for major lung cancer screening study

SUNY Upstate Medical University is seeking 500 volunteers for its two-year New York Early Lung Cancer Action (NY-ELCAP) screening study.

Volunteers must be aged 60 or older, have a history of at least 10 pack-years of smoking, and have no history of prior cancer. They must have the pulmonary, cardiac and general physical capacity to undergo thoracic surgery, if needed. African Americans, Native Americans, Southeast Asians and Hispanics are especially encouraged to participate in the study as they are statistically shown to be at higher risk for lung cancer. To participate or to learn more about the project, call 1-866-NYE-LCAP (693-5227).

SUNY Upstate Medical University was selected this past September as one of 12 sites in New York state to participate in the NY-ELCAP project.

According to Leslie Kohman, M.D., who serves as Upstate’s principal investigator for the project, findings from the NY-ELCAP project will be used to solidify those found from a previous study conducted at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Those findings demonstrated that Helical CT (computerized tomography) can detect signs of lung cancer in high risk patients at a much earlier and more curable stage than when seen on chest X-ray.

“We are encouraging Central New Yorkers who are at high risk for lung cancer to participate in this important study. Ultimately, data collected from all 12 NY-ELCAP study sites may provide the state the rationale to establish an effective lung cancer screening program,” said Kohman.

Study participants will receive low-dose CT scans free of charge. Once eligibility is determined and informed consent obtained, volunteers will undergo a free baseline CT scan in the University’s outpatient Harrison Center. This low-dose CT scan uses a radiation dose about the same as a mammogram. Findings from the scan will be shared with the volunteer and the referring physician.

Volunteers who have completed baseline CT screening and have no documented malignancy during the ensuing year will undergo one-year repeat low-dose CT screening. It is estimated that 80 percent of the original volunteers will be eligible and available for the one-year scan.

Volunteers who show a positive scan will be asked to return for a diagnostic CT scan with high-resolution images. The clinical information and scans will be presented to the Central New York Thoracic Oncology Program. Patients with cancer will be considered for any additional clinical trials for which they meet eligibility criteria.

Long-term follow up (results of treatment and possible cure) will be conducted by the NY-ELCAP central facility at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. To ensure confidentially, each volunteer will be given a unique study identifier rather than a name, which will be used for all subsequent data analysis.

Kohman, a nationally recognized expert on lung cancer, is professor of surgery at Upstate Medical University and founder and director of the Central New York Thoracic Oncology Program. She will be joined in the project by co-investigator Ernest Scalzetti, M.D., associate professor of radiology and chief of Thoracic Imaging at Upstate. Robert J. Lenox, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, serves as the clinical pulmonologist for the project; and Linda J. Veit as the clinical research associate.

Statewide, a total of 10,000 ethnically diverse research volunteers will be recruited. New York City contributed $4 million to fund NY-ELCAP; Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield provided $1 million; and the New York Community Trust provided $520,000. New York City’s contribution is allocated from a portion of the tobacco settlement fund resulting from litigation against tobacco manufacturers. Upstate Medical University’s grant from NY-ELCAP is $250,000.

Upstate’s study is a multidisciplinary effort of its departments of Surgery, Radiology and Pulmonary Medicine.

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