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Dr. Jack West is a medical oncologist and thoracic oncology specialist, and Executive Director of Employer Services at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, CA.

Screening Trial for Never-Smokers
Sun, 01/18/2009 - 16:13
Author
Howard (Jack) West, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Medical Oncology, Executive Director, Employer Services, Founder, President and CEO of GRACE

One of the principles of screening is that the likelihood of detecting a cancer depends greatly on the risk that a person being screen has for developing that cancer. Low risk means that it is very likely that any abnormality that is detected is more likely to be unrelated to cancer. And because of that, nearly all of the screening efforts thus far have focused on patients with a significant smoking history.

But there are some patients who have a higher risk, even despite an absence of a smoking history. Among those would be considered at higher risk without a smoking history would be people with a significant family history of lung cancer (particularly an increased risk among people with a family history of lung cnacer in never-smokers, though the risk is still quite low), and people with a significant history of exposure to secondhand smoke. And now there's a study being done by a group that has a particular interest in the risk of lung cancer from secondhand smoke: flight attendants.

The Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute has sponsored a screening study for never-smokers (less than 100 cigarettes in a lifetime), a minimum age of 40 (cancer risk is age-related), significant exposore to secondhand smoke, no cancer history, and no prior CT in the preceding three years. The trial is currently being conducted at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell's Weill Medical School in New York, Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, and some others. You can learn more about the trial here.

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