Sandler Awarded VICC Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Initiative Grant

Kim Sandler, M.D., Assistant Professor of Radiology and co-director of the Vanderbilt Lung Screening Program (LSP), was recently awarded a grant by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) Department of Medicine for a pilot of their Cancer Early Detection and Prevention (CEDP) Initiative.

Launched earlier this year, CEDP aims to engage faculty across Vanderbilt in identifying research opportunities and solutions related to early detection and prevention of leading cancers.

Dr. Sandler, who will be the project’s Principal Investigator, was awarded $50,000 for a one-year project titled, “A Randomized Evaluation of Strategies to Increase Lung Cancer Screening and Participation in Women Who Are Engaged in Breast Cancer Screening.” Alexis Paulson, MSN, APRN, WHNP-BC, TTS, and clinical coordinator of the LSP, will support Dr. Sandler as the project’s co-investigator.

According to the CEDP, the “goal of [the] funds is to build preliminary data sets and projects for a larger collaborative grant application. [It] will create an internal network of investigators who are interested in early detection and prevention through imaging, biomarkers, screening and clinical investigation.”

The CEDP grant came out of preliminary research performed last year by Dr. Sandler, Paulson and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student Carolyn Scott. Through that data, they determined many of the patients currently enrolled in the LSP had also recently undergone breast cancer screening.

Having identified that as an opportunity to increase enrollment in the LSP, Dr. Sandler submitted an abstract to the CEDP that outlined a three-pronged approach to target 210 women currently undergoing breast cancer screening with mammography who also meet high-risk for lung cancer criteria. The approach is as follows:

  1. To assess the effectiveness of alternative strategies to facilitate participation in lung cancer screening in women who are engaged in breast cancer screening.
  2. To understand why physicians do not refer eligible patients for lung cancer screening.
  3. To understand why eligible women would not enroll in the LSP after undergoing the pre-computed tomography (CT) shared decision-making visit.

In compliance with the current screening guidelines, patients at high risk for developing lung cancer are between the ages of 55 to 77, and are current or former smokers with a 30 or more pack year history who have smoked in the past 15 years.

Since its inception in 2013, the LSP has enrolled more than 700 patients, and has performed more than 1,000 screening tests using low-dose CT.  

For more information on the LSP, and how early lung cancer detection saves lives, visit

Kim Sandler, M.D.