While aggressive tobacco control and help to stop smoking are essential weapons in the fight against lung cancer, screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in high-risk populations and chemoprevention may also contribute to reducing lung cancer deaths. Persons undergoing LDCT screening are an ideal population to be tested for agents potentially able to prevent the development of lung cancer by the regression of precancerous lesions, which are routinely monitored as part of the screening process. Peripheral subsolid nodules appear as particularly suitable targets, since many are adenocarcinoma precursors.
A study on inhaled budesonide (a potential chemopreventive drug) for 1 year found that the mean size of non-solid lung nodules was significantly reduced over 5 years of follow-up, compared to inhaled placebo, in a population of high-risk individuals with indeterminate lung nodules not requiring immediate specific investigation for lung cancer and detected as part of a lung cancer screening program with LDCT.
A new randomised placebo-controlled phase-II trial to test the ability of aspirin to induce the regression of non-solid and partially solid nodules detected by LDCT screening has been started. The effect of aspirin on a miRNA signature able to predict the presence of both cancer and precancerous lesions in high-risk asymptomatic individuals is also being monitored in the trial. This signature was previously shown to predict the presence of both lung cancer and non-solid lung nodules in asymptomatic individuals.