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Terry Fox Research Institute Expands Early Detection Lung Study to Newfoundland & Labrador

Terry Fox Research Institute Expands Early Detection Lung Study to Newfoundland & Labrador

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June 23, 2010

St. John's-- The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) today announced the expansion to Newfoundland & Labrador of a nationwide lung cancer detection study involving current and former smokers.  Seven sites across Canada currently participate in the study and since its launch in September 2008, a total of 37 cancers have been found. To date, 2,021 participants are enrolled in the national study, which is aimed at detecting and treating lung cancer earlier and through readily accessible and low-cost detection techniques.

Organizers of the Newfoundland & Labrador study, to be based in St. John's, aim to recruit 200 participants over the next year.  The study will be conducted in collaboration with health care and research partners at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Eastern Health, based at the Health Sciences Centre.

"We are pleased to be a part of this national lung cancer detection study and know that many current and former smokers in the province will be interested in it as well. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada and around the world. This study is focused on early detection and treatment of lung cancer and has the potential to significantly reduce lung cancer mortality through relatively simple breath and blood tests. We're grateful to TFRI for expanding the study to Newfoundland and Labrador, and we believe it is of vital importance to improving survival rates from lung cancer both here and elsewhere in Canada," said Eastern Health radiologist Dr. Rick Bhatia, clinical associate professor of radiology at MUN, who will lead the site project and work with his colleagues in respiratory medicine.

TFRI is providing $472,907 for the St. John's study, bringing the total invested in the Early Lung Cancer Detection Study to $7.16 million. The lung study is co-funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

"We recently celebrated the launch of the Atlantic Node of the Terry Fox Research Institute in St. John's, Newfoundland in April 2010. Our investment in this study site signifies our commitment to help improve cancer outcomes for patients who live here. This is the first of what we hope will be many partnership initiatives with regional cancer research and health care communities here.  This study is an international first and participants are helping to make history in cancer research," said Dr. Victor Ling, TFRI president and scientific director.

"The study recognizes the need to create a lung cancer detection program and infrastructure that is both timely and affordable within the Canadian health care system," says Dr. Heather Bryant, vice-president of cancer control at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.  "The study will give us important information on how to proceed with any eventual nationwide approach to the early detection and treatment of lung cancer."

 "We wish to express our sincere thanks to TFRI and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer for their investment in this important study that will help to increase the effectiveness and reach of lung cancer detection. Further, Memorial University of Newfoundland is pleased to participate in this pan-Canadian study," says Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore, Memorial University of Newfoundland

The made-in-Canada program has sites in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Quebec City and Halifax. It uses a unique combination of a questionnaire and tests of blood and breath to determine the effectiveness of these readily accessible and low-cost detection techniques for lung cancer as a first step in early detection, streaming those identified as being at higher risk to the costlier but more sensitive spiral CT and bronchoscopy.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada and around the world, killing 20,000 in Canada* and 1.2 million worldwide. That is more than colorectal, breast and prostate cancers combined. By 2020, it is projected that lung cancer will be the fifth highest killer among all diseases.**

Current and former smokers between the age of 50 and 75 who are interested in participating are urged to call 709-777-7097 in St. John's.  To contact other participating centres, please call 1-888-505-TFRI (8374).

Media contacts:

Kelly Curwin                                                
Chief Communications Officer
Terry Fox Research Institute
Vancouver, BC
Mobile: 778-237-8158

Lisa Marchitto
Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
Toronto, Ontario
Mobile: 647-618-0436

Sharon Gray
Communications Coordinator, Health Sciences
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's

Deborah  Collins
Manager of Media Relations
Eastern Health
St. John's

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