New research to address early lung cancer detection

04/26/04

$3.6M given to answer: Can early detection lead to tobacco cessation

NEW YORK, NY, April 26, 2004 – A new screening technology that could detect lung cancer much earlier than ever before was funded today through matching grants of $1.8 million respectively from the American Legacy Foundation and the UK's Medicsight Foundation. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, an international leader in CT screening for lung-cancer detection, will conduct the research.

The donation will support a 4,000-patient study whose goal is to demonstrate that CT screening for lung cancer can be effectively linked to smoking-cessation programs to enhance the motivation for people to stop smoking. The study, which will begin in June, will use unique advanced image analysis software.

"We want to make screening programs an economic and life-saving reality," says Dr. Claudia Henschke, the study's principal investigator and one of the world's leading authorities on CT screening for lung cancer. "The International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) is proving that CT screening is an effective tool for early diagnosis of lung cancer. This newly funded study represents a unique opportunity to understand how to best increase smoking cessation in the context of CT screening. At the same time, we will be incorporating and developing advanced image processing software to make screening as effective as possible."

Dr. Henschke directs the Lung Cancer Screening Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she is professor of radiology and division chief of chest imaging.

The American Legacy Foundation – the only national organization solely focused on tobacco prevention and cessation – and Medicsight Foundation, which provides research funds for medical imaging, share Dr. Henschke's interest in determining if participation in early detection programs would lead more smokers to quit.

"The American Legacy Foundation knows that science eventually will find far better ways to detect and treat lung cancer," said Cheryl G. Healton, Dr. P.H, and president and CEO of the Foundation. "The pressing question in the minds of many is whether or not CT screenings for lung cancer will encourage smokers to quit or make them put off this decision even longer. With lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer death in this nation, the Foundation is especially interested in answering this vexing question."

Based in the United Kingdom, Medicsight Foundation – whose patron is HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO with Stephen A. Forsyth, Tim Paterson-Brown, and Steven C. Rockefeller, Jr. serving as Trustees – provides funds for medical research specifically to improve medical-imaging technology and software. It supports advancements in methods that detect common fatal diseases in their earliest stages.

The Medicsight Foundation donation was presented to Dr. Henschke by Steven Rockefeller, the prominent business and philanthropic leader and a foundation patron, during the 10th International Conference on Screening for Lung Cancer at Weill Cornell.

"The Medicsight Foundation recognizes the need for teamwork in lung cancer. We know that primarily lung cancer is the result of smoking," Rockefeller says, "but we also know that smokers need help – and teamwork – if they are to succeed in breaking their damaging addiction. When you go it alone, you have a one in 12 chance of stopping smoking. Support can improve that chance."

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