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Study of Sputum Collection and Evaluation in the Pittsburgh Lung Screening Study (PLuSS)

Simon, Mary Beth (2006) Study of Sputum Collection and Evaluation in the Pittsburgh Lung Screening Study (PLuSS). Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Lung cancer remains a significant public health problem in 2006, despite efforts aimed at educating individuals about the dangers of tobacco and the successes of smoking cessation programs. No screening methods aimed at high risk individuals are currently supported by the National Cancer Institute or other medical organizations. Since the risk for lung cancer persists even after smoking cessation, studies of methods to detect lung cancer in its early stages, when it is amenable to cure, are clearly needed. This study examined a novel method of sputum collection and processing to determine whether the adequacy of the samples collected was improved over conventional preparation methods. We also examined lung function as a possible predictor of cytologic abnormality in the sputum of individuals at high risk for lung cancer, and studied the potential of a molecular biomarker for the early detection of lung cancer. This study employed a cross-sectional design and utilized quantitative methods for exploring the relationships between the variables, particularly those of lung function, cytologic diagnosis and gene mutation status, with personal risk factors for developing lung cancer. This study demonstrated an association between lung function and cytologic diagnosis of moderate or worse atypia in the sputum collected from these participants and examined at the University of Colorado. We also demonstrated a higher rate of sputum specimen adequacy than has been previously reported from conventional clinical experience. We examined the feasibility of conducting somatic gene mutation analysis on the samples collected by this novel method. We achieved some success in studying K-ras mutations, but were unsuccessful in our analysis of DNA methylation. From these experiences we have gathered information upon which to base further studies.The importance of these findings from a public health perspective is that there is an opportunity for early detection of lung cancer via analysis of cellular and molecular changes in sputum. We have demonstrated that the Thin Prep® methodology, applied to sputum, produces material suitable for cytologic examination and, under certain circumstances, material suitable for molecular analysis. Patients at high risk for lung cancer will benefit from continued research into novel screening methods.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Simon, Mary
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeissfeld, Joeljwepid@pitt.eduJWEPID
Committee MemberTalbott, Evelyneot1@pitt.eduEOT1
Committee MemberWieand, H. Samuel
Committee MemberSiegfried, Jilljsiegfr@pitt.eduJSIEGFR
Committee MemberRaab,
Date: 8 August 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 8 June 2006
Approval Date: 8 August 2006
Submission Date: 31 May 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: DrPH - Doctor of Public Health
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: lung cancer screening; sputum cytology
Other ID:, etd-05312006-074907
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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