A new study to test the potential of setting up a national lung cancer screening programme has been announced today. Researchers will assess if the expertise and technology at cancer centres, such as Papworth Hospital, could efficiently support a large-scale screening programme, similar to those already in place for breast cancer detection.
The pilot UK Lung Screening (UKLS) trial, is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme and builds on a programme of research into the feasibility of lung cancer screening.
Dr Robert Rintoul, Lung Cancer Specialist at Papworth Hospital said, “We are very excited about this trial which will examine whether a national lung cancer screening programme could potentially reduce the number of deaths from lung cancer in the UK. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the UK claiming over 33,000 lives each year. If we can detect lung cancer at an early stage there is a much better chance that we could cure it.”
Members of the public who are identified through questionnaires as having one or more of the risk factors for lung cancer will be invited to take part in the pilot UKLS trial. They will receive a CT-Scan and be monitored for early signs of lung cancer. This group will be compared to people with the same risk factors but who have not received specialist scans. All those participants who smoke will be offered smoking cessation advice.
Funding for the pilot study follows positive results from an earlier feasibility study funded by the NIHR HTA programme and the results of a similar lung cancer screening project in the US. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) in the US found that death from the disease could be reduced through a screening programme that detected the condition in its early stages.
UKLS aims to produce results in the same time-frame as a major European screening trial called NELSON. The NELSON trial is run by the Dutch Lung Cancer Screening Group and the UK team is working closely with the Dutch team to help maximise the data available.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, National Clinical Director for Cancer at the Department of Health, said: “I am delighted that the Department of Health, through the NIHR, is taking the lead on behalf of all National Cancer Research Institute partners, by funding this important pilot study and progressing research in this area. UKLS complements other trials currently underway in Europe and the US.”