Development of a Biologic Specimen Bank for the Study of Early Markers of Lung Cancer Among Tin Miners in Yunnan, China
The overall goal of this project is to identify strategies to reduce lung cancer incidence
and mortality. Using a high-risk occupational cohort, our specific objectives are 1) to
establish a biologic specimen bank and data bank that can be used for the validation and
refinement of potential early markers of lung cancer, and 2) to establish a cohort for the
study of environmental (including dietary) and genetic risk factors for lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from malignant neoplasms in the United States and
in many countries around the world. Potential strategies to reduce the incidence and
mortality of lung cancer include new methods of early detection and identification and
alteration of etiologic factors.
The Yunnan Tin Corporation (YTC), located in Yunnan Province in southern China, is a large,
nonferrous-metals industry, formed in 1883 and nationalized after the establishment of the
People's Republic in 1949. It is involved principally in the production of tin from the
mines around the city of Gejiu. The tin miners at YTC have extremely high rates of lung
cancer. Among those at high risk, defined as miners 40+ years old with 10+ years of
underground mining and/or smelting experience, more than one percent per year develop lung
cancer. These extraordinary lung cancer rates result from combined exposure to radon,
arsenic, and tobacco smoking in the form of cigarettes and/or bamboo water pipe.
The study population for the development of a biologic specimen bank for the study of early
markers of lung cancer is all YTC miners considered to be at high risk for lung cancer based
on their occupation exposure (40+ years old with 10+ years of underground or smelting
experience). Currently numbering over 7,000, this high-risk group has been the target for
the annual lung cancer screening program at the YTC for the past 20+ years. For each
high-risk miner, sputum samples are collected annually, read for cytologic interpretation,
and stored in Saccomanno's solution for future early marker research. Screening chest
x-rays are also obtained. Subjects are followed annually to determine if any have developed
lung cancer. Diagnostic workup of suspicious cases includes an additional sputum sample and
histology specimen(s), which are used for diagnostic purposes and also retained for future
Additional biologic specimens have also been obtained on screenees for etiologic research,
including a one-time collection of whole blood, urine, and toenail clippings. Finger stick
bloods and buccal smears for DNA will also be sought.
Philip R Taylor, M.D.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
United States: Federal Government