Op-Ed Letters to the Editor
Battling the lung
BY BRADLEY PUA, M.D.
AND BRUCE RATNER
Ten years ago, scientists
from the National Cancer
Institute presented findings
from what should have been
the most impactful lung cancer
study the world had ever seen.
In November 2010, the
NCI-sponsored National Lung
Screening Trial (NLST) released
results demonstrating that testing
high-risk individuals with
a technology called low-dose
computed tomography (LDCT)
reduced lung cancer mortality by
20 percent. Subsequent studies
have shown that figure could be
as high as 61 percent in certain
We had these results in hand at
the beginning of the decade. Yet,
arriving now at its close, very little
In 2019, lung cancer accounted
for nearly a quarter of all US cancer
deaths, much as it did 10 years
Likewise, lung cancer survival
rates have barely budged over the
last 10 years, despite hundreds of
billions of dollars spent on drug
research and treatments.
What began as a decade filled
with promise for lung cancer
sufferers has ended as a decade
The key to reducing lung cancer
deaths is catching the disease
early. This was the main takeaway
of the NLST—early detection
Yet, ten years after the study
findings were released, around
70 percent of lung cancers are
still diagnosed only at stage 3 or
And the NLST wasn’t the first
demonstration that LDCT is an effective
early detection tool. Nearly
14 years ago, researchers at Weill
Cornell Medicine in New York
City showed that using LDCT they
were able to detect lung cancer
while it was still at stage 1 an
incredible 85 percent of the time.
Yet the number of patients
undergoing screening is astonishingly
small. An estimated 8
million people in the US meet the
criteria for receiving lung cancer
screening, which are based on an
individual’s age and smoking history.
In 2016, less than 2 percent
of those people were screened.
We can’t, however, let these difficulties
lead to stasis. Our lung
cancer crisis demands that we put
to work the very powerful tools
we have available.
In the past, clinicians have
tackled similar public health
challenges using mobile screening
units, such as the mammography
vans that have become a familiar
part of the healthcare landscape.
We believe this could be an effective
approach for driving access
to lung cancer screening, as well.
Recently, the Center for Early
Detection of Cancer, a new cancer
philanthropy, launched a collaboration
with physicians from
Weill Cornell Medicine to bring
mobile lung cancer screening to
New York City, targeting at-risk
populations in medically underserved
neighborhoods. The Center
aims over the next three months to
screen 1,000 residents at multiple
sites throughout the city.
Reviewing our progress against
lung cancer, it is hard to call the
last ten years anything but a
When we look back from
2030 what will we see? Great
strides made or another decade
squandered? Tens of thousands
of lives hinge on the answer to
Bradley Pua, M.D. is the Director
of Lung Cancer Screening
Program at Weill Cornell Medicine
Bruce Ratner is the Founder of
the Center for Early Detection of
WHY CAN’T WE LEAVE
I think leaving the Mitchell-Lama housing
program is a very viable option. As a long time
shareholder at Village View, I think it is time
to at least vote on a feasibility study.
Lots of examples from around the neighborhood
show that maintenance fees practically
don’t go up outside Mitchell-Lama. Quality-oflife
and services improve, and most of all, you
can leave your apartment to your kids.
To leave Mitchell-Lama is also voluntary, so
if you don’t want to leave, you can stay in your
apartment for life at the current rate. So I really
don’t understand why our Board dropped the
idea of exploring leaving Mitchell-Lama.
Villager reader Stan
REMEMBERING A GREAT
My senior year English teacher, Warren Allen
Smith, left an impression on me.
Remember his driving a MG. Years later
I married a man interested in MG’s we have
several. My last visit with Mr. Smith was at
our 40th high school reunion in 1998. My
last name was Hogben and he always wanted
to know if I was related to Lancelot Hogben
mathematician at Yale. I never found out. I am
about to read his book about New Canaan. I
grew up there and left in 1974.
KEEPING UP CLEAN
Regarding a look back at the Village sweeping
up back in 1971 (Manhattan Snaps, Jan.
2): Our block association in Chelsea held the
same events in the 1970’s with the help of the
Department of Sanitation.
The brooms were so huge the kids couldn’t
handle them, but they tried! We filled big black
bags and left them on the street corners for
It was a spring event and included cleaning
the tree pits…carefully, since they were full
Pamela Wolff, Chelsea West 200 Block
IN PRAISE OF LASALLE
Tequila Minsky wrote a wonderful article
about a great school that has transformed so
many lives (New director of LaSalle Academy
introduced, Dec. 26). Often students are not
challenged who are able to just get by. La
Salle Academy helps them realize their true
Br. Carl Malacalza, Former campus
minister, president of La Salle Academy
I was in bed, lights out, obsessing, I don’t
know why, about Arnie Baskin. I hadn’t seen
him in a half century. I googled him and saw
the obit (published Oct. 22). I’m so sad.
Arnie was my teacher at Boston University
in the mid-1960’s. He stood out as the only
professor then with the kind of verve and flair
that in itself was inspiring. His personal interest
in each of his students was often the reason
some of us — me included — chose to follow
on his footsteps.
I’ll always be grateful.
Schneps Media January 9, 2020 13