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Wednesday, August 10th, 2005 -- 9:11 AM

Longtime ABC news anchor Peter Jennings passed away at the age of 67 on Sunday. In the spring, Jennings, who was a smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Dr. Douglas Reding is a medical oncologist with the Marshfield Clinic. He says the statistics regarding smoking and the development of this extremely deadly form of cancer are staggering.

"About 80-percent of those who get lung cancer have a smoking history. About 20- to to 25-percent of those who smoke get lung cancer," Reding says.

And the mortality rate for those that are diagnosed with lung cancer is exceptionally high, largely because of a lack of screening methods.

"In the state of Wisconsin for the year 2005, it's projected over 3,000 people will get lung cancer and 90-percent of those people are projected to die," Reding says. "We don't have a good screening test to find lung cancer early like we do for breast cancer or colon cancer."

"The majority of patients present with advanced diseas before they come in. The first symptom may be caughing up blood or shortness of breath, which is already an advanced stage."

The Marshfield Clinic is taking part in a national study to see if CT scans can be used to screen for lung cancer much as a mammogram screens for breast cancer. The study is focusing on people who have had a ?pack a day? habit for 25 years. Results of the study should be complete by next year, but initially, Dr. Reding says there have been some positive signs.

"We're find cancer. Now we have to demonstrate that finding it early translates to people living longer."

"Even if you reduce the mortality rate of lung cancer by 10-percent, that would be about 20,000 peope that wouldn't die nationally," Reding says.

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