Moffitt Cancer Center Recognizes National Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November 02, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. – Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the United States and is the second most common form of cancer for both. More than 224,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed this year in the United States, and nearly 160,000 will die of the disease. Roughly two out of three people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 and older. Moffitt Cancer Center is leading the way in personalized treatment and research of the disease, and our experts are available for interviews during National Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November.

Moffitt has developed a comprehensive lung cancer screening program that’s among the best in the nation, which has resulted in our being named a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance. As part of our program, you’ll receive not only high-definition computed tomography (CT) scans, but also:

  • Professional, multispecialist tumor board reviews of abnormal screening results
  • Preferential appointments with Moffitt’s team of oncologists specializing in lung cancer
  • Admission to tobacco treatment and smoking cessation programs
  • Immediate access to additional support and clinical services 

We offer our lung cancer screening services at two convenient locations:
Moffitt Cancer Center
12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa
Monday – Friday | 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza
4101 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa
Monday – Friday | 6:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Our lung cancer screening program is open to patients who:

  • Are between the ages of 55 and 80
  • Are current or former smokers with a 30-pack per year history equivalent to one of the following:

          o One pack a day for 30 years 
          o Two packs a day for 15 years 
          o Three packs a day for 10 years

  • Are no longer using tobacco products, but quit within the past 15 years

Moffitt also offers lung cancer screening services to patients who do not meet the above criteria but have a referral from a general physician or pulmonologist. You can make an appointment with one of Moffitt’s pulmonologists for evaluation and a referral. Call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488) or complete our new patient registration form.

To schedule a chest CT screening appointment, call 1-888-MOFFITT or visit Medicare and most managed care and commercial plans cover this screening for those at high-risk.

When a physician suspects lung cancer, the diagnosis can be confirmed through several tests. Imaging scans are often the first step in identifying abnormal growths that might require further testing. For instance, a physician may use an X-ray, CT scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to get a detailed visual of the patient’s lungs and thoracic cavity.

If an imaging scan shows a growth that could be lung cancer, samples of the lesion may be taken for analysis by a pathologist. Often, a fine needle aspiration will be used. During this procedure, a physician uses a long, hollow needle to take a sample directly from the tumor. Other tests may be used instead, including:

  • Sputum cytology – A physician takes a sample of mucus that has been coughed up from the lungs. 
  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) – A physician uses a transbronchial needle aspiration to retrieve tissue or fluid samples from the lungs without surgery. 
  • Thoracentesis – A physician drains a build-up of fluid from the cavity around the lungs using a needle.
  • Thoracotomy – A physician removes a tissue or fluid sample during open chest surgery.
  • Bronchoscopy – A physician inserts a flexible, lighted tube (bronchoscope) into the airways of the lungs via the nose or mouth and retrieves tissue or fluid samples.

If a microscopic analysis of the biopsied material confirms that the patient’s growth is cancerous, additional tests will be used to determine whether the cancer has spread. These tests include PET (positron emission tomography) scans, bone scans and ultrasounds. However, these tests are typically not used until a physician has confirmed a lung cancer diagnosis and is working to determine the cancer’s stage.

Harnessing Your Immune System
Moffitt researchers are developing treatments that use a patient’s own immune system to treat lung cancer, as well as prevent its recurrence. During the past four years, Moffitt has treated more than 300 patients on immunotherapy clinical trials, placing the cancer center in an elite group of hospitals in the country with similar experience. 

  • FDA Approves First Immunotherapy-Companion Diagnostic Combo for Lung CancerMoffitt is offering a recent FDA-approved immunotherapy drug called pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for some patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, along with a diagnostic test to identify patients suitable for this treatment.
  • CRS-207 Immunotherapy Trial — Moffitt is offering a clinical trial led by Dr. Scott Antonia to evaluate the immune response of therapeutic vaccine CRS-207 in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. This therapeutic vaccine targets mesothelin, a cell surface tumor antigen present on normal mesothelial cells that is highly expressed in many human tumors including virtually all mesothelioma.
  • Anti-PD-L1 and Anti-PD-1 Trials — Moffitt offers clinical trials for patients with advanced lung cancer using a class of monoclonal antibody that stimulates the ability to attack tumors by utilizing immune checkpoint inhibitors. These treatments have been approved by the FDA for melanoma and lung cancers. These promising agents are being offered alone or in combination with other immune treatments. 

Moffitt’s Thoracic Department has many new immunotherapy clinical trials available for lung cancer and mesothelioma patients.

Researchers Discover Natural Killer Cells that Fight Cancer
A collaborative team of researchers recently discovered a novel mechanism that lung cancer cells use to block detection by a type of immune cell called a natural killer cell (NK cell).  

  • NK cells find and destroy virally infected cells and also play an important role in detecting and killing tumor cells.  However, tumors produce high amounts of a protein called Transforming Growth Factor-Beta (TGF-β) that suppress the activity of NK cells. 
  • Researchers led by Dr. Julie Y. Djeu, associate center director of education and training at Moffitt, discovered that TGF-β produced by tumor cells causes NK cells to make high levels of a molecule called microRNA-183 (miR-183). MicroRNAs are important regulators of gene expression. They bind to genetic components called RNA and target them for destruction.  Scientists discovered in the early 2000s that deregulation of microRNAs can lead to the development of cancer.

Clinical Trials Personalize Lung Cancer Treatment

  • Moffitt is participating in the Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium. The consortium represents the largest national initiative to prospectively examine non-small cell lung cancer tumors and match patients to the best possible therapies. The consortium includes 16 leading cancer centers across the country. The primary goal is to provide the most up-to-date care for lung cancer patients while collecting valuable information about the frequency and characteristics of abnormalities found in lung tumors to further improve patient care. The consortium is coordinated by a cross-institutional group of researchers and the Free to Breathe organization. Dr. Eric B. Haura serves as Moffitt’s principal investigator.
  • Analyzing tumors on the molecular level allows Moffitt to offer targeted and personalized treatments and clinical trials. Investigators are developing trials for lung cancer patients with EGFR, KRAS, DDR2, PIK3CA and BRAF mutations. Drs. Alberto Chiappori, Eric Haura and Jhanelle Gray are the principal investigators for both pharmaceutical-sponsored and investigator-initiated trials.

o    MCC18341 - A Phase III, Double-Blind, Randomized Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of AZD9291 versus a Standard of Care Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor as First-Line Treatment in Patients with Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation Positive, Locally Advanced or Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

o    MCC18411 –AZD9291 Expanded Access Program for the Treatment of Patients with Advanced/Metastatic EGFR T790M Mutation-Positive Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Who Have Received Prior EGFR TKI Therapy

o    MCC18304 - A Phase II Trial of AZD1775 Plus Carboplatin-Paclitaxel in Squamous Cell Lung Cancer

o    MCC18398 -  A phase II, multicenter, three-cohort study of oral cMET inhibitor INC280 in adult patients with EGFR wild-type (wt), advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have received one or two prior lines of systemic therapy for advanced/metastatic disease 

  • Moffitt is looking at new ways to utilize tumor vaccines by using them in combination with therapeutic approaches directed at the tumor microenvironment. Gray is using vaccines, including GM.CD40L in combination with other drugs on Moffitt clinical trial 16439 for stage IV patients. Antonia serves as principal investigator for a trial for 2nd line patient using MEDI4736 in combination with tremelimumab (anti-CTLA4) MCC 17608. 

For a complete lists of Moffitt’s clinical trials for lung cancer patients, click here.

Treatment Available at International Plaza
Moffitt’s International Plaza location offers access to high-quality services and exceptional patient care in a smaller, conveniently located facility at 4101 Jim Walter Blvd. Dr. Tawee Tanvetyanon has a clinic at International Plaza. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT.

Specializing in Mesothelioma
Thoracic surgeon Jacques Fontaine leads Moffitt’s Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center. The specialized program of the Department of Thoracic Oncology offers a multimodality approach with a strong emphasis on clinical research to develop novel treatments utilizing immunotherapy, therapeutic vaccines and state-of-the art surgery. The treatment team — Drs. Antonia, Tanvetyanon, Kis, Dilling and Fontaine — has special interest and expertise in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The vision of this center is to provide innovative treatments for mesothelioma to achieve a cure and restore quality of life to our patients. 

  • PERCUTANEOUS Chemoembolization Trial – By placing a catheter through the groin into the aorta, chemotherapy can be injected selectively in the blood vessels feeding the tumor thus decreasing the rest of the body’s exposure to chemotherapy.  This would maximize the benefit of chemotherapy and minimize its side effects.  This clinical trial is open to eligible patients whose mesothelioma cancer has not responded to traditional chemotherapy. The principal investigator is Dr. Bela Kis.
  • Complex Surgery: Extra-Pleural Pneumonectomy – In selected patients, surgical resection of the tumor can provide long-term survival.  This complex surgery involves removal of the pleura, lung, pericardium and diaphragm followed by reconstruction with a synthetic mesh.  The surgical team led by Fontaine has developed an expertise and gained an excellent reputation in this type of surgery.     

Moffitt Researchers Seek Bilingual Smokers for New Study Testing Smoking Cessation Materials
Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center are actively recruiting Hispanic smokers that speak and read both English and Spanish for a study testing cessation education materials.

The Moffitt study will incorporate focus groups of smokers who speak both Spanish and English.

“This study will allow us to translate smoking cessation educational materials from English to Spanish and then to test their usefulness,” says Diana Diaz, the project leader and part of Moffitt’s Department Health Outcomes and Behavior.  “Once the focus groups are completed we will move on to modifying the materials and present them to a group of Spanish-only-speaking smokers.”

Researchers are currently recruiting for the bilingual focus group and to be considered for the study, participants must be 18-years-old or older, speak English and Spanish, been a smoker for at least and year and smoke at least five cigarettes a week.

Each focus group will take 90 minutes and participants will be compensated for their time.

To learn more or to enroll, please contact Diana Diaz at 813-745-4374.

Stereotactic Radiotherapy Delivers Accuracy
Moffitt’s Lung Stereotactic Radiotherapy Program offers comprehen­sive radiation treatment that combines advanced radiotherapy technology with the strength of a skilled, experienced oncology team. Moffitt’s program is one of the largest in the nation and is the most experienced in Florida. Patients benefit from the latest image-guided stereotactic radiotherapy tools that allow physicians to sculpt or shape the radiation beam, as well as change the dose intensity and angle. This capability maximizes the effectiveness of treatment while minimizing radiation exposure and harm to healthy tissues nearby. All patients have treatment with real-time daily image guidance. This computer-controlled dose delivery allows treatment to hit the tumor site with pin­point accuracy and precise margins, minimizing complication risk. This treatment is effective for primary lung cancers, as well as for lesions that are metastatic to the lung from other sites in the body.

Drs. Thomas J. Dilling and Bradford Perez are available to discuss stereotactic radiosurgery for the treatment of lung cancer.

Moffitt Uses GPS Technology to Drive Improved Treatment for Lung Cancer
Moffitt is harnessing two new systems to more accurately identify and treat lung cancer, improving patient outcomes. These new electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy (ENB) systems use GPS-like technology to find lesions, help stage suspicious areas for biopsy, and treat cancer found in the lungs.

The Veran and Covidien (or SuperDimension) systems use 3-D virtual imagery to assist doctors in finding lesions.  Lung cancer can be diagnosed much earlier with both ENB machines because they are able to locate cancers less than a centimeter wide.  The procedure is minimally invasive and helps doctors establish a treatment plan to help reduce patient anxiety and improve cancer outcomes. 

Both ENB systems reduce the risk of a collapsed lung during a biopsy, avoiding complications that can lead to treatment delays. Dr. Eric Toloza is one of four surgeons in Florida using the Covidien system And one of 12 thoracic surgeons in Florida using the SuperDimension technology.  Dr. Frank Kaszuba oversees use of the Veran system to locate smaller nodules in the lung for diagnostic purposes.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month Events

Give Lung Cancer the Boot to Support Lung Cancer Research at Moffitt
Nov. 6 – Give Lung Cancer the Boot will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Clubhouse at the Bridges, 11350 Bloomingdale Ave., Riverview. The evening will feature the culinary skills of Chef Dave West from the Rolling Pin, Vino and Entertainment Italian Style. Tickets are $100 per person. Sponsorship packages are available. Proceeds to benefit Prelude to a Cure, which funds lung cancer research at Moffitt. Purchase tickets at

De Moffitt a Puerto Rico: Charlas sobre cáncer
On Nov. 6 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Moffitt will offer the ninth event in its series of free cancer education programs called De Moffitt a Puerto Rico: Charlas sobre cáncer. The program, presented in Spanish, will focus on the latest advances in early detection and treatments for lung cancer where Dr. Scott Antonia, department chair of Thoracic Oncology, will be the guest speaker of the event.

Need Help to Quit Smoking?
Nov. 11 – Moffitt’s Tools To Quit program will hold a smoking cessation class from 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 11 at Moffitt’s Muriel Rothman Clinic Building, 12902 Magnolia Drive. The two-hour class helps participants prepare a quit plan tailored to cope with their nicotine cravings and triggers.  Attendees will also receive four weeks of free nicotine patches. Nov. 19 is the Great American Smokeout. Visit Moffitt’s Patient Library and Welcome Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and meet with Moffitt’s tobacco treatment specialist.

Veterans Encouraged to Schedule Lung Screenings
In honor of Veterans Day, Moffitt is teaming up with the Lung Cancer Alliance and Vietnam Veterans of America to encourage veterans to call or come in for a lung cancer assessment, and if needed, to schedule a CT scan from Nov. 9-14.  

Many veterans are not aware that they are among those at highest risk for lung cancer and that screening with low-dose CT scans can save lives. The Department of Defense included cigarettes in K-rations until 1976, and consequently more than 70 percent of Vietnam veterans smoked. An estimated 50 percent still do. Studies have shown that risk is exacerbated by exposure to other known carcinogens such as Agent Orange, radon, asbestos, beryllium, diesel fuel exhaust and other battlefield emissions. Estimates of excess lung cancer risk and mortality among veterans range from 25 to 75 percent.

LATTE Educational Forum in Naples
Nov. 13 – The Lung and Thoracic Tumor Education (LATTE) program will hold a special educational forum from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 13 at The Club at The Strand, 5840 Strand Blvd., Naples. Patients, families, caregivers and the public are invited to this free event. Dr. Christine Walko, research scientist in Personalized Medicine, will present “Remembering the ‘Patient’ in Personalized Medicine.” The forum will also feature Dr. Jhanelle Gray, thoracic department associate member, who will present on the latest “Research Advancements in Lung Cancer Treatment.” A question-and-answer discussion will follow, and education materials on lung cancers and Moffitt will be available.

Moffitt Partners with Free to Breathe for the 2nd Annual Lung Cancer 5K
Nov. 21 – The 2nd Annual Free to Breathe Lung Cancer 5K Run/Walk and 1-mile Walk will take place at Al Lopez Park, 4810 N. Himes Blvd. on Nov. 21 beginning at 8:30 a.m. Join the “Moffitt Cancer Center’s LATTE Program” team to raise money for lung cancer research. Moffitt and the LATTE program will sponsor the Survivor Tent.

Bulls Against Cancer
Nov. 21 – The University of South Florida and Moffitt have partnered together on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. to honor lung cancer awareness month in the men’s basketball game versus Boston University at the Sun Dome. The USF Bulls will wear white jerseys signifying lung cancer, which will be auctioned off later with proceeds to benefit research in the Thoracic Department at Moffitt. Dr. W. Michael Alberts will accept the donation on behalf of Moffitt. 

In addition, USF Bulls fans can also order limited-edition Bulls Against Cancer Under Armour T-shirts by visiting Proceeds benefit cancer research and patient services at Moffitt.

Rappel for Lung Cancer Research with Jillian’s Dream
Dec. 12 – The 2nd Annual Rappel for Lung Cancer Research is set to begin on Dec. 12 at the Parmenter Realty Partners Island Center skyscraper at 2701 Rocky Point Drive. This unique fundraiser is put on by Jillian’s Dream, a nonprofit organization in honor of Jillian, a 28-year-old who passed from lung cancer. Founder and Jillian’s mother, Ros, said “Jillian told me she didn’t want a walk. She wanted something creative. She said, ‘Go big or go home.’ In Jillian’s memory, I’m committed to change. I believe that one day we will find the answer and a cure. Together, we are stronger than lung cancer.” Funds raised at this event will benefit Uniting Against Lung Cancer. 

Tampa Bay Lightning Partnership
Throughout the Lightning season this year, the team will donate a portion of the proceeds from their 50/50 raffle to Moffitt. For the six home games in November, a portion of the proceeds from the 50/50 raffle will benefit lung cancer research at Moffitt.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 45 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in Florida and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. With more than 4,600 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $1.9 billion. For more information, visit, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.