Early lung cancer test could be life-saving – Dr Chris hails ‘dramatic’ development

Dr Chris discusses CT scans detecting lung cancer

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Lung cancer claims more lives than any other form of cancer in the UK, in part because it is usually not picked up until it has spread. However, low-dose computerised tomography (CT) scans can detect tumours in people’s lungs early and cut deaths by 16 percent, according to new findings from the UK Lung Cancer Screening Trial (UKLS). Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, Doctor Chris heralded the finding as a “major step forward”.

As Doctor Chris explained, the ability to detect early lung cancer is “dramatic”.

However, chest x-rays are not are not good at detecting tumours in lungs.

However, the new findings indicate that a low dose CT scan is “really good” at detecting lung cancer, reported Doctor Chris.

The development is significant because lung cancer is the “biggest cancer killer” in this country, he said.

About 47,000 Britons a year are diagnosed with lung cancer, and 35,000 die of the disease.

As Doctor Chris reported, it kills more men than prostate cancer and more women than breast cancer.

The UKLS trial involved 3,968 people in Liverpool and Cambridge aged between 50 and 75. All had been identified as being at risk of developing lung cancer over the next five years.

Between October 2011 and February 2013, just over half (1,987) had a CT scan, while the others (1,981) received normal NHS care but were not scanned. All were followed up for seven years.

Eighty-six cancers were detected over that period among those who were screened but fewer – 75 – over those seven years among those who had received normal care.

Significantly, while there were 46 deaths over those seven years among those who had not had a CT scan, many fewer occurred – 30 – in the group that had been screened.

According to doctor Chris, the findings represent a “major step forward” in the fight against lung cancer.

Dr Robert Rintoul, the chair of the UK Lung Cancer Coalition’s clinical advisory group and a co-author of the study, said the findings underlined that “national lung cancer screening programmes are urgently needed.

“In the UK, only one-quarter of new cases of lung cancer are caught at an early stage when treatment with curative intent can be offered.

By contrast, around 75 percent of lung cancers identified through CT screening studies are early stage, and can be treated by surgical removal or radiotherapy.”

The study is the latest to show that CT screening spots lung tumours early. The results are being sent to the UK National Screening Committee, which advises ministers.

Professor Anne Mackie, Public Health England’s director of screening, said the findings would inform the committee’s ongoing discussions into whether to recommend screening of at-risk groups.

NHS England is meanwhile undertaking trials of lung cancer CT screening in various parts of the country.

Lung cancer – symptoms to spot

There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer.

However, many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms including:

  • A persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Persistent breathlessness
  • Unexplained tiredness and weight loss
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing.

“You should see a GP if you have these symptoms,” advises the NHS.

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