Researchers Seek Current and Ex-Smokers for Novel Lung Cancer Prevention Studies

Researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center are seeking volunteers for two studies testing drugs used to treat other diseases to determine if they're effective in preventing lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in men and women.

Current heavy smokers and former heavy smokers - the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years or more - may qualify to participate in these vital National Cancer Institute-sponsored studies, which could shed new light on preventing a deadly cancer that kills more than 162,000 Americans every year, said Dr. Jenny Mao, an associate professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine and a Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher.

One study is testing an oral form of the drug Iloprost in both current and former smokers. The inhalational form of Iloprost was recently approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to treat pulmonary hypertension. The oral drug used in the study is experimental and not approved by the FDA but is available in Europe. Volunteers must make seven monthly visits to UCLA and will receive free lung cancer screening and up to $400 in compensation.

A study of the anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex is for former heavy smokers 45 and older who have quit for at least a year. Former smokers who have had surgery for a Stage I lung cancer may also qualify. Celebrex is FDA-approved for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and for the prevention of colorectal cancer in patients with a rare genetic disorder that predispose them to colorectal cancer, but has not been approved for lung cancer prevention. Volunteers may need to make up to 12 visits to UCLA and will receive free lung cancer screening, including CT scan and bronchoscopy, and up to $625 in compensation.

UCLA is the only site in California offering these lung cancer prevention studies, Mao said. For more information, call (310) 267-2144 or visit www.lungcancerprevention.com.

About 174,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in Americans this year alone. Deaths from lung cancer account for 29 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States. Cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor for lung cancer - 85 to 90 percent of lung cancers are smoking-related. Finding a drug that can prevent lung cancer would provide a vital new tool in the fight against the disease, Mao said.