TAMPA - Heavy smokers and those who quit may have a chance to lower their risk of getting lung cancer. Researchers at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute are testing a new drug that could reverse some of the smoking-related damage to their lungs. Moffitt investigators will determine whether Sulindac may reverse some of the lung abnormalities associated with smoking.
"Individuals who have smoked develop genetic changes in the cells that line their lungs over the years," said Dr. Melvyn Tockman, a member of Moffitt's thoracic oncology program and principal investigator on the study. "As many as half the new cases of lung cancer come from former smokers."
Sulindac has been beneficial in preventing the development of pre-cancerous polyps in the colon. Doctors will test to see if it works similarly on cells in the lung. Moffitt researchers opened a clinical trial to test the drug on people between 45 and 79 years old who have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years. Researchers are looking for current and former smokers who have changes in their sputum, or cells coughed from the lungs, that demonstrate changes caused by years of smoking.
"The most important thing is for people to stop smoking. It's never too late," said Tockman. "Even a 65 year old who quits has a lower lung cancer rate by age 75 than someone of the same age who continues smoking."
Smokers, former smokers who have no history of lung cancer or those with stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer that was removed at least one year prior to the screening exam are eligible for the study. For more information on participating in the clinical trial, call (813) 745-3685.