Lung cancer screening feasibility study funded

Dr Hannah Levis, Reader in Ophthalmic Bioengineering, Eye & Vision Sciences

Scientists at the University of Liverpool will undertake a study to assess the feasibility of undertaking a UK-based screening trial for lung cancer. The study has been commissioned by the National institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme.

Lung cancer kills more people worldwide than any other malignancy accounting for around 1.4 million deaths each year, and around 38,000 individuals are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year.

“The number of deaths from lung cancer has fallen in past years in the UK and this is likely to be due to a decline in tobacco smoking, and possibly greater public awareness. However, there is a large ex-smoking population, who remain at high risk of developing lung cancer,” says lead researcher Professor John Field, director of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Research Programme, at the University of Liverpool.

“Screening to detect the disease before patients develop any symptoms is a method that urgently requires evaluation as surgical resection at an early stage of the disease remains the only realistic option for a cure.”

The results of the feasibility study will be used to decide whether a pilot study and subsequently a full clinical trial should be commissioned. This would use computerised tomography (CT) to scan people at high-risk of developing lung cancer, and would look at both the benefits and the harms that could result from such a screening programme.

“If the results of the feasibility study are promising it will be important to undertake a randomised control trial to assess if CT scanning is the best way forward. Only then would evidence be available to show whether a National Lung cancer Screening Programme should be considered,” says Professor Field.

“We are delighted that the HTA has decided to invest in this first stage, which will help inform whether it is feasible to conduct a full trial.”

To view the full project details visit www.hta.ac.uk/1752

Notes to editors:

1. Statistics taken from the World Health Organisations website http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/

2. The HTA programme is a programme of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and produces high quality research information about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It is the largest of the NIHR programmes and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with over 440 issues published to date. The journal’s 2007 Impact Factor (3.87) ranked it in the top 10% of medical and health-related journals. All issues are available for download free of charge from the website, www.hta.ac.uk The HTA programme is coordinated by the NIHR Coordinating Centre for Health Technology Assessment (NCCHTA), based at the University of Southampton.

3. The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. www.nihr.ac.uk
 

4. “¢ Lung cancer kills more people worldwide than any other malignancy.
“¢ Currently 33,500 individuals die each year in the UK from lung cancer.
“¢  The number of deaths has fallen in the past years and this is likely to be due to a decline in tobacco smoking, and possibly greater public awareness.
“¢ There is now a large ex-smoking population in the UK and  Europe, who remain at high risk of developing lung cancer, which is dependent on their smoking duration prior to tobacco cessation.
“¢ This group of individuals will continue to do so over the next two to three decades.
“¢  Screening to detect the disease before patients develop any symptoms is a control measure urgently requiring evaluation as surgical resection at an early stage of the disease remains the only realistic option for a cure.

Low Dose CT lung cancer screening was introduced in the late 1990’s and offers a major advance in imaging technology. It is more sensitive than chest X-Ray and has enabled detection of lung tumours smaller than one centimetre.

For more information call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0 169 (open 7am-11pm every day) and visit www.givingupsmoking.co.uk

5. The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £123 million annually.

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