UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center selected as research site for NCI's new research network

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center selected as research hub for NCI's new research network
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center selected as research hub for NCI's new research network

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center was selected as one of nine national research sites for the National Cancer Institute's newly launched Cancer Screening Research Network (CSRN).

The CSRN is aimed at evaluating emerging cancer screening technologies. It will conduct large, multi-center screening studies designed to identify technologies that detect cancers and pre-cancerous lesions before symptoms develop.

Hopefully, this will help reduce cancer cases and cancer-related morbidity and mortality.

"Detecting cancer early is not enough to improve people's lives." Lori M. Minasian, MD, the deputy director of NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention, said. "Through the Cancer Screening Research Network, we're going to study whether using these new technologies will make a difference in people's lives."

Daniel Reuland, MD, MPH, Louise Henderson, PhD, MSPH, and Carrie Lee, MD, MPH, will lead the UNC Lineberger Accrual, Enrollment, and Screening Site (ACCESS) Hub.

All three are professors at the UNC School of Medicine. Henderson and Reuland are co-directors of UNC Lineberger's Carolina Screening Initiative.

"In our role as an ACCESS Hub, we will build on UNC Lineberger's depth and breadth in designing and conducting innovative interventional cancer screening studies and clinical trials, and developing and analyzing large, complex data sets related to cancer screening," Reuland said.

By partnering with clinical sites from across the state, he said they can include a diverse population, which will help research findings be more applicable to communities across the country.

Later this year, the CSRN is initiating the Vanguard Study on Multi-Cancer Detection (MCD) tests, also known as liquid biopsies. The study will enroll up to 24,000 people to inform the design of a much larger trial involving about 225,000 people. The larger trial will then evaluate whether using MCD tests can detect cancer in a way that reduces deaths.

"Cancer screening currently involves imaging tests or other medical procedures for several types of cancer, yet approximately half of cancer deaths occur in cancers with no current screening test," Henderson said. "MCD tests offer the promise of early detection for many different types of cancer across organ sites simultaneously. While there is a lot of excitement around MCD tests and their potential to revolutionize how we screen for cancer, the net benefits are unknown."

Lee, who is also the medical director of UNC Lineberger's Clinical Trials Officer, said it is critical to get more evidence about which cancer diagnostic tests can improve outcomes, and which ones are not.

"Sometimes tests can produce results that are not meaningful or actionable, and these results can cause people to have undue anxiety," Lee said. "We want to develop a better understanding about whether a positive test result is actually associated with a cancer diagnosis, and whether early detection will have a meaningful impact on the individual's prognosis and survival."

This CSRN is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration's Cancer Moonshot initiative.