Healthy living

Scots to take part in lung cancer screening trial

Scots to take part in lung cancer screening trial Simple blood test will be used to detect disease

A simple blood test which detects lung cancer in its earliest stages is to be trialled in Scotland.

The trial will recruit 10,000 people who have smoked 20 cigarettes a day for at least 20 years and are at higher risk of developing lung cancer.

Screening is due to start before the end of 2012 and the first results of the trial are expected to be reported before the end of 2014.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, and Scotland has one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world. Fewer than nine per cent of lung cancer patients are alive five years after diagnosis, as the disease is most often detected in the later stages when it is difficult to treat.

Known as the EarlyCDT-Lung, the test detects a number of antibodies produced by the body's immune system when a patient has lung cancer.

Half of the trial participants will be given the blood test, while the other half will not, but will be given standard care.

Patients with a certain level of antibodies in their blood will be referred for CT-scans to look for signs of the disease.

At the end of the four year trial, the NHS will analyse the results to decide whether the test is a cost-effective screening tool for lung cancer.

Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said: "The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the greater the chance it can be treated successfully, and currently 85 per cent of patients with lung cancer remain undiagnosed until the disease has reached an advanced stage.

"This pilot project is part of our Detect Cancer Early programme, which aims to increase the early detection of cancer by 25 per cent.

"By testing those at greatest risk of developing lung cancer, and diagnosing it at its earliest possible stage, we stand a better chance of being able to treat the cancer successfully. This means patients can be treated when their general health is better and when less aggressive treatment may be required than if the cancer had spread."

John Robertson, professor of surgery at Nottingham University, who spent 15 years developing the test, said: "The test is highly reproducible and will, I believe, lead to significant improvement in prognosis for a substantial number of lung cancer sufferers. A randomised screening trial of this nature will help validate its use as a screening tool."

He went on: "We are working hard on bringing the next test for the early detection of breast cancer to the market within a year. We are also working on a number of similar tests for prostate, colon and ovarian cancer - a blood test to aid detection of all tumour cancers is still the overriding objective of our work."

This article was published on Fri 23 March 2012

Image © Coka #8356859

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