Cutting-Edge Clinical Trials Offer Hope for Lung Cancer Patients

lung scanLung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the United States, killing more people than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. An average of 160,000 Americans each year will lose their battle with lung cancer. Early detection is the key to prolonging life. Dr. James Jett, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health notes, “We need to enhance screening to detect a greater number of early-stage lung cancers. That is the patient’s best chance of a cure.” When lung cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate is 70-80 percent. In an effort to improve early detection, Dr. Jett is the principal investigator on two clinical trials now offered at National Jewish Health.

Chemicals in Breath Could Impact Survival

Past research has shown that dogs can detect lung cancer in a person’s breath with great accuracy. A new study analyzes the chemical compounds found in a person’s breath. These compounds differ from those found in a healthy person’s lungs. National Jewish Health is working with a company called Metabolomx on a breath screening trial. They have developed a machine that detects hundreds of different chemicals in a person’s breath. Upon completion of the trial, National Jewish Health hopes to help identify a cancer “signature” that will aid in the early detection and treatment of lung cancer.

Combining Blood and Imaging

In addition to the breath screening, Dr. Jett is working on the LDCT-EarlyCDT lung screening study. It combines two types of lung cancer screenings: a blood test and an imaging test called a CT chest scan. The EarlyCDT-Lung blood test screens for antigens that show up in the blood when cancerous tumors might be present. A CT chest scan can show lung nodules and masses that may not be seen on a normal chest X-ray.

The blood test has a 41% sensitivity; that is, it can detect 41% of lung cancers. The CT chest scan has shown a 20% reduction in death rates from lung cancer, something chemotherapy trials and chest X-ray screening trials have not been able to replicate. This combination of blood and image screening offers promise to both high-risk patients and those with other risk factors that could lead to lung cancer.

National Jewish Health is currently recruiting patients for both the LDCT-EarlyCDT and breath screening trials. To learn more, please call 303.398.1911 or 877.225.5654 and ask for the Adult CRU.

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