Stopping Cancer Early – The Best Possible Investment


Posts Tagged ‘National Cancer Institute’

Early Cancer Detection Update for National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Health

November 29, 2012

The National Cancer Institute, under the National Institute of Health, plays a crucial role in cancer research throughout the United States. As the nation’s “investment in cancer,” NCI has quite a bit of ground to cover.  NCI’s annual budget is approximately $5 billion. In 2010, 7% of NCI’s budget was allocated to the Division of Cancer Prevention. The Early Detection Research Group is one of ten groups in this division, and the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) is one of the division’s six major projects. This means that early detection research is receiving a fraction of that 7% budget.

Although early detection may not be their top focus, NCI has moved to make a more substantial investment in early detection research and technology, and is making headway in this area.  Additionally, NCI has collaborated with Canary Foundation on early detection projects.

NCI started EDRN to bring together multiple institutions working on early detection research. Early detection has many facets and therefore requires the work of leaders from many fields. By working together, different institutions can more effectively facilitate advances in early detection science and translate these advances into clinical practice. Canary Foundation operates in this same way, organizing multi-institutional studies and moving studies towards clinical practice.

The NCI has also developed accelerated programs called SPORES, or Specialized Programs of Research Excellence. SPORE studies are set up to be short-term (five years or less) and high-impact where they can translate quickly to clinical use and improve the lives of humans. Their objective is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality, while seeking to better the quality of life for cancer patients. Several of Canary Foundation’s programs and researchers are involved in important SPORE work including our Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Programs. More »

Lung Cancer Early Detection Moves Forward at Canary Foundation

November 20, 2012

In keeping with Canary Foundation’s two-step process, the Canary Early Cancer Detection for Lung Cancer program’s goal is to develop a combined blood test and imaging approach to detect lethal lung cancer early, because early detection and treatment greatly enhance survival. The Canary Lung team is tackling the under-recognized area of lung cancer in non-smokers, seeking to understand why it develops and what the disease characteristics are in order to create screening tools for that disease.

Imaging for Lung Cancer Early Detection

CT screening* can reduce mortality from lung cancer, shown recently with the results of the National Lung Screening Trial, or NLST. Currently, when patients undergo a CT scan, it’s possible to see a problem spot, such as a lung nodule, but difficult to determine whether or not it is cancer. This presents a real opportunity to enhance the specificity of current imaging technology so it will be possible to determine if a spot isn’t or is cancer, and if so, whether it shows lethal characteristics.

Preliminary tests to improve the CT scan through molecular imaging have been very promising. A novel modified scan developed by Canary team members at Stanford uses new technologies to light up tumors so that their mass, and areas where they have spread, are clearly distinguishable in lung cancer patients. The technology will be tested for its specificity for early lung cancer (vs. benign conditions, such as scar tissue) in patients with lung nodules.

Biomarkers for Lung Cancer Early Detection

A blood biomarker test, used in combination with imaging, may also provide the specificity needed for accurate lung cancer screening. In line with Canary’s innovative and collaborative model, the Canary lung team has worked closely with five other organizations on a project to develop lung cancer biomarkers funded jointly by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The most promising biomarkers from a comparison study in Vancouver are being selected.

The next step is to conduct a validation study of these biomarkers on carefully collected samples from the PLCO (Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, Ovarian) Screening Trial, a large randomized trial designed and sponsored by the NCI, to determine the effects of screening on cancer-related mortality.

If these biomarkers perform well on the PLCO samples, they will proceed through progressively more rigorous validation studies. Ultimately, blood biomarkers will be tested in combination with imaging in people currently getting screened for lung cancer, to validate the best approach for detecting lung cancer early and potentially saving lives.

*A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of structures inside the body.