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Abramson Cancer Center Part of Groundbreaking Initiative
November 21, 2006, Volume 53, No. 13

Despite the many advances that have been made over the past 30 years in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, one grim fact remains: the overall five-year lung cancer survival rate is only 15%. The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania has joined an international effort launched by Roswell Park Cancer Institute to potentially revolutionize the prevention and management of this disease.

The Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), together with the Abramson Cancer Center and lung cancer experts representing 11 leading research institutions, have established the first international lung cancer registry—the Stacey Scott Lung Cancer Registry (www.StaceyRegistry.org). The goal of this global collaboration is to deepen the understanding of lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages. Dr. Daniel Sterman, director of Interventional Pulmonology, and Dr. Anil Vachani, both from the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care at Penn’s School of Medicine, will head the registry at the Abramson Cancer Center. The registry, founded and co-directed by pulmonologist Dr. Gregory Loewen, will be housed at RPCI in Buffalo, NY.

“The information on high-risk individuals screened at the Abramson Cancer Center will play a critical partnership role in achieving the registry’s goals,” said Dr. Vachani. “With the knowledge we gain through this registry, we’ll be able to intervene with high-risk patients before they develop clinically evident lung cancer. A system of shared information through a patient registry concentrated in one database will facilitate research into the characteristics and progression of lung cancer,” added Dr. Vachani.

All of lung cancer research data will be organized at RPCI and made accessible to scientists. Researchers will then use registry data to initiate studies that may answer critical questions, such as: 

• What changes take place in precancerous lesions that trigger their transformation into lung cancer?
• What diagnostic test(s) would most effectively screen for those changes?
• And do genetic biomarkers combined with risk factors, such as smoking, lead to the development of lung cancer?

Precancerous lesions for lung cancer, which previously have been undetectable, can now be visualized using technologies such as autofluorescence bronchoscopy (AFB). Understanding how precancerous conditions become cancerous has been difficult because no single institution was able to gather data from enough patients or to follow-up patients for a sufficient period of time to provide clinically relevant answers. To resolve these issues, principal investigators from the 11 centers have agreed to contribute patient information to this multi-institutional, high-risk lung cancer patient registry.

The Stacey Scott Lung Cancer Registry is named for a previously healthy 38-year-old non-smoking woman who lost her four-month battle with the disease in 2005. Mrs. Scott was a patient of Dr. Gregory Loewen at RPCI.

“This has the potential to help prevent others from facing the situation I faced so that they do not lose a wife, husband, sister or brother to this disease,” said William Scott, Jr., Stacey’s husband. Mr. Scott, along with family members and colleagues, has helped to raise over $600,000 thus far to support the registry’s work.

The breakthrough collaboration includes preeminent lung cancer clinicians and researchers from the following 11 institutions: 

• Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY;
• University of Colorado Cancer Center, Aurora, CO;
• BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC, Canada;
• Academic Hospital Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
• Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA;
• Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, Jacksonville, FL, and Scottsdale, AZ;
• NYU Medical Center, New York, NY;
• Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA;
• The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, OH;
• The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD;
• and The University of Chicago Cancer Research Center, Chicago, IL.

Almanac - November 21, 2006, Volume 53, No. 13