New York Weill Cornell To Lead Statewide Consortium in Early CT Screening for Lung Cancer

Sep 1, 2000


Dr. Claudia Henschke, Chief of the Chest Imaging Division of the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, is leading a statewide consortium of medical institutions in a large-scale study of early CT (computerized tomography) screening of smokers for lung cancer. The pioneering study—the New York Early Lung Cancer Action Program (NY-ELCAP)—has the potential of saving thousands of lives from lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States.

Dr. Henschke has been a pioneer in the use of CT scanning, as opposed to X-ray, for early detection of lung cancer. Although early CT screening is not yet accepted as standard procedure for people at risk of lung cancer, her studies have shown that if lung cancer nodules are detected and removed in their initial phase, the five-year survival rate can exceed 70 percent. When lung cancer is detected at a later stage, the survival rate is much lower; overall, the cure rate for lung cancer is just 12 percent.

NY-ELCAP will screen 10,000 current or former heavy smokers, aged 60 or older, who have no prior cancer; are fit to undergo thoracic surgery, if warranted; and are recommended by their physicians. New York Weill Cornell is leading the participating institutions, which include eight members of AMDeC (Academic Medicine Development Company, a statewide consortium of 35 medical research institutions). Formed two years ago, AMDeC was instrumental in helping to establish NY-ELCAP.

Initial funding for NY-ELCAP is coming from the City of New York in the amount of $4 million (to be allocated from the city’s share of the tobacco settlement fund resulting from litigation against tobacco companies), Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield in the amount of $1 million, and The New York Community Trust in the amount of $520,000.

In addition to receiving a CT screening, participants in NY-ELCAP will be invited to join a comprehensive smoking cessation program. Any participant identified from the CT screening as having a suspected cancer will be referred immediately for follow-up medical consultation. Participants will be recruited through an intensive education campaign.

Representatives of the consortium praised the generosity of the funders, particularly the City of New York for returning the tobacco settlement money to a health program rather than spending it on some other purpose.

Dr. Antonio Gotto, Jr., Dean of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, the institution at the heart of the program’s leadership, said, "Collaborative research projects like NY-ELCAP enable researchers to cost-effectively study larger and more diverse populations in varied settings. A study of this import will accelerate the practical application of new technologies for public benefit. Dr. Claudia Henschke should be congratulated for her outstanding work in bringing her initial findings to fruition in a significant project like this one."

To enroll in a free NY-ELCAP screening, please call toll free 1-866-NY-ELCAP (866-693-5227).