Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Is North Carolina Site for National Lung Screening Trial

September 18, 2002

Current and former smokers are needed to participate in a new research study to determine if screening people with either spiral CT (computerized tomography) or chest X-ray before they have symptoms can reduce deaths from lung cancer. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), launched today by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), will enroll 50,000 participants and will take place at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and 29 other sites throughout the United States.

"Lung cancer kills more people than cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, and pancreas combined and will claim nearly 155,000 lives this year," said Caroline Chiles, M.D., professor of thoracic radiology and principal investigator of the study at Wake Forest. "While there are no guarantees of benefit, our hope is that this study will lead to saving lives." In North Carolina, 5,500 people will get lung cancer in 2002, and 5,000 will die of it.

The trial is a randomized, controlled research study in which participants will be randomly assigned to receive either a free study-related chest X-ray or spiral CT once a year for three years. Researchers will continue to contact participants annually to monitor their health until 2009.

Men and women can participate in NLST if they meet the following requirements:

  • Are current or former 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


"Conventional wisdom suggests that the smaller the tumor when it is found, the more likely the chance of survival – but that remains to be proven," said NLST co-director Denise Aberle, M.D. of the University of California Los Angeles. "Because of the number of individuals participating and because it is a randomized, controlled trial, NLST will be able to provide the evidence needed to determine whether spiral CT scans are better than chest X-rays at reducing a person’s chances of dying from lung cancer."

When detected, lung cancer has usually spread outside the lung in 15 percent to 30 percent of cases. Spiral CT, a technology introduced in the 1990s, can pick up tumors well under 1 centimeter (cm) in size, while chest X-rays detect tumors about 1 to 2 cm in size.

To help ensure that NLST reaches full enrollment quickly, the American Cancer Society will support NCI with targeted promotional and outreach efforts.

For more information on the NLST study, call 336-716-1116, or 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

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Contact: Jonnie Rohrer, 336-716-6972 or Mark Wright, 336-716-4587.

Media Relations

Main Number: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587