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Anyone who has smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day for more than 30 years or   has been an ex-smoker for less than 15 years and who is over 55 years of age can opt to be part of the Moon Shot studio in Spain completely free of charge

  • This observational study forms part of Moon Shot, a global initiative led by the United States whose objective is to find a solution for cancer within five years

  • The Moon Shot Program for lung cancer in which MD Anderson Madrid  is participating, is led by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston and, involves a total of 10,000 volunteers, smokers or ex-smokers from China, the United States, France and Spain

MD Anderson Madrid has just launched "Moon Shot", an observational study promoted by MD Anderson Foundation Spain, which seeks to establish a panel of blood biomarkers capable of detecting early lung cancer in smokers or ex-smokers and that, at the same time, has led to the creation of the first protocol for early detection of this disease in our country.

In the same way that mammograms are performed periodically for screening for breast cancer, volunteers who adhere to the program will annually undergo a spirometry, a low-dose chest CT and a blood test during the five years the study is estimated to last.

Currently, there is no such program in lung cancer because, as explained by Dr. Natalia Carballo, head of the Radiation Oncology Service and coordinator of the Moon Shot project at MD Anderson Madrid, "there is controversy about the use of CAT scanning to perform an early diagnosis of lung cancer, as some experts express reluctance to carry out a test of these characteristics, which may be harmful to health, to make such an early diagnosis ".

This circumstance motivated the use of low radiation CAT scanning, but here the problem is false positives, ie the diagnosis of benign nodules as malignant. Some problems that had blocked the implementation of lung cancer screening that is now available to anyone meeting a series of clinical criteria and wishing to join the Moon Shot Program.

The criteria tobe able to participate in this trial are to be over 55 years old and to be an active smoker of more than 20 cigarettes a day for more than 30 years or an ex-smoker for less than 15 years. In addition, those over 50 years of age who are active smokers or former smokers of more than 14 cigarettes a day for at least 30 years may participate if they have any associated risk factors, such as other lung diseases, a family history of lung cancer. or have had contact with metals such as radon or asbestos. The selection criteria is exclusively clinical and anyone can choose to join the Moon Shot studio for free.

But the main thing in this clinical trial, besides the possibility of free annual screening for volunteers, is to achieve the identification of a panel of biomarkers in blood to detect the risk of developing lung cancer. "Just as we have the CEA marker in colon cancer or the PSA in prostate cancer, we want to detect two or three biomarkers that allow us to tell a smoker what risk he/she has of developing lung cancer before it appears," stresses the Coordinator of Moon Shot in MD Anderson Madrid.

A global initiative focused on the fight against cancer

An ambitious goal, to achieve predictive biomarkers of lung cancer, which is supported by an international initiative born in January 2016, when then US Vice President Joe Biden announced the launch of Moon Shots, a global program with a very clear objective: to try to beat cancer. To do this, 13 different initiatives were created, each of them dedicated to a different type of tumor, and involving different countries, races and nationalities, with the aim of drawing a reliable map of the disease.

Given their experience and prestige in cancer treatment, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston was charged with leading, among other things, research into lung cancer, the most common cancer in the world with the highest mortality rate. For that reason and taking into consideration that Spain, despite the fall in tobacco consumption in recent years, still has one of the highest smoking rates in Europe (the latest estimates of Eurostat indicate that approximately one in four Spaniards smoke), MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid is one of the centers involved in the Moon Shot Program for lung cancer.

The program, in which in addition to the United States and Spain France and China (with one of the highest smoking rates in the world) are also taking part, aims to recruit a total of 10,000 volunteers for a study estimated to take 5 years to complete. In Spain, Dr. Carballo explains, there will be a maximum of 300 volunteers who will take part in a project expected to provide important results in the coming years.