Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO)

The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial was a large randomized controlled trial designed and sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The goal was to determine the effects of screening on cancer-related mortality and secondary endpoints in men and women aged 55 to 74.

  • Prostate: After 13 years of follow-up, there was no evidence of a mortality benefit for organized annual screening compared with opportunistic screening, which forms part of usual care.
  • Lung: Annual screening with chest radiographs over a 4-year period did not significantly decrease lung cancer mortality compared with usual care.
  • Colorectal: Screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy was associated with a significant decrease in colorectal-cancer incidence (in both the distal and proximal colon) and mortality (distal colon only)
  • Ovarian: Among women in the general U.S. population, simultaneous screening with CA-125 and transvaginal ultrasound compared with usual care did not reduce ovarian cancer mortality.

The results of the trial influenced U.S. Preventative Services Task Force guidelines. Data generated by the study continue to be used to answer related crucial questions.

Cancer Data Access System (CDAS)

Additional information about PLCO can be found on the Cancer Data Access System (CDAS) website, including a trial summary.

CDAS also serves as a portal for PLCO datasets, including:

Etiologic and Early Marker Studies (EEMS)

Over the course of the PLCO trial, over 2.9 million biospecimens were collected, including blood samples, buccal cells, and tumor tissue cores and microarrays. Biospecimens are available to qualified researchers through the Etiologic and Early Marker Studies (EEMS) program. Details of the review process and application materials are available on CDAS.

PLCO Atlas

The cohort of PLCO participants has been followed for more than two decades, resulting in a rich collection of anthropometric, lifestyle, and disease information, and includes data from several smaller-scale molecular studies. The NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics has genotyped 110,000 PLCO participants and developed PLCO Atlas as a resource for genetic studies.

Funding Opportunity

One FOA is open for application: Utilizing the PLCO Biospecimens Resource to Bridge Gaps in Cancer Etiology and Early Detection Research PAR-21-330 (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Applications must include a letter confirming the availability of biospecimens. This letter can be requested through CDAS.

Applications are accepted three times a year. For more information, please refer to the Funding Opportunity Announcement and CDAS.

FOA expiration date: October 12, 2024

EEMS Application for Biospecimens

Applications are accepted twice per year. An approved preliminary application is required before submission of a full application.

More details, including deadlines and application instructions, are available on the CDAS website.

Webinar on PAR 21-330

Utilizing the PLCO Biospecimens Resource to Bridge Gaps in Cancer Etiology and Early Detection Research (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Date: May 4, 2022
Presented by: Claire Zhu, Ph.D.

View the Webinar

(RUNTIME: 00:17:46)

Download slides (PDF, 3.09 MB)

Grant Portfolio


PLCO Publications