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Hadassah Physician Participates in Lung Cancer Breakthrough

Ricky Cheung


(New York, NY -- October 26, 2006) -- The results of an international research study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine report that an annual low-dose CT scan can detect lung cancer in its earliest stage in 85 percent of patients, and when followed by prompt surgical removal, 92 percent have a 10-year survival rate.

Implementation of this simple procedure would dramatically decrease the number of deaths from this disease, considered the most lethal cancer in the western world. Some 170,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with this cancer every year; about 95 percent of them do not survive. Currently, most cases are diagnosed when the lung cancer is in its later stages.

The study, initiated by researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in 1993, expanded into an international research effort known as I-ELCAP (International Early Lung Cancer Action Program), involving researchers from 38 medical centers in seven countries. Dr. Claudia Hencshke of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell, is the lead author and principal investigator.

The Hadassah University Medical Center is the only Israeli hospital that participated in this research effort – the largest and longest study to test the effectiveness of annual CT scans in the early detection of lung cancer.

Dr. Dorit Shaham of Hadassah’s Imaging Institute, one of I-ELCAP’s founders, played a major role in the international research group along with leading the Hadassah research aspect of the study. Among her contributions was the creation of an Internet site that the group is using to teach physicians.

Cure for lung cancer is likely only when it is discovered in Stage I. Of the 31,567 people the I-ELCAP teams tested, CT scans diagnosed 484 with lung cancer, with 412 in Stage I. All but eight of them received treatment; all of the eight died within five years. All the research participants were more than 40 years old and considered at high risk for developing lung cancer from smoking, passive smoke or exposure to cancerous materials in their work places.

Of the 1,000 people tested in Israel, 15 were diagnosed with lung cancer with 85 percent of them in Stage I. All were treated after diagnosis and their disease has not returned.

“These research findings provide convincing proof that the early detection of lung cancer by CT scanning can give hope to millions of people,” Dr. Shaham said. “They also prove that immediate treatment after detection in its early phase may dramatically decrease lung cancer mortality rates.”

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