Europe should plan to screen for lung cancer, says Liverpool expert

lung cancer

An expert from the University of Liverpool says that Europe should move rapidly towards planning for the screening of high-risk individuals for early signs of lung cancer.

Professor John Field, writing in Nature, points out that data from the US supports the life-saving potential of lung-cancer screening, but European health authorities have not implemented the process yet. 

Roughly every two minutes during 2012, one person in the European Union died of lung cancer, Professor Field says. He states that nearly 75% of lung-cancer patients present with late-stage disease, when effective treatment is unlikely to succeed.

Early detection essential

Professor Field, from the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine, said: “Low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening makes early detection of lung cancer possible, which could add many years to many lives.”

This conclusion stems from a 2011 study of more than 55,000 current and former smokers in the US, which reported that low-dose CT screening resulted in a 20% decrease in lung-cancer mortality over screening with standard chest X-rays.

European health authorities have chosen to wait until further data is available from the European trials in 2015/16.

Highest risk

Professor Field added: “Let’s not delay; there is no need to wait before taking steps towards planning for a widespread lung-cancer screening programme amongst the highest risk populations.

“Every year we delay could needlessly sacrifice tens of thousands of lives to the world’s biggest cancer killer.”

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