Study to test feasibility of lung cancer screening programme
Researchers at the University of Liverpool are investigating if a lung cancer screening programme could be implemented effectively at hospitals and cancer centres across the UK.
The pilot UK Lung Screening (UKLS) trial, in partnership with Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital; Papworth Hospital, Cambridge; and the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, London, is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) and builds on a programme of research into the feasibility of lung cancer screening.
Researchers will assess if the expertise and technology at cancer centres in the UK could efficiently support a large-scale screening programme, like systems already in place for breast cancer detection.
The team, part of the Liverpool Lung Project, funded by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, has already completed a study to identify the risk factors of developing lung cancer, which includes history of respiratory disease and smoking.
Members of the public who are invited to take part in the pilot UKLS trial will attend Papworth Hospital, Cambridge or Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, to receive a CT-Scan and be monitored for early signs of lung cancer. This group will be compared to those who have not received specialist scans. All those participants who smoke will be offered advice about how to stop smoking.
Funding for the pilot study follows positive results from a 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 trial is run by the Dutch Lung Cancer Screening Group and the UK team are working closely with the Dutch team to help maximise the data available.
Professor John Field, Chief Investigator of UKLS at the University’s Cancer Research Centre, said:
“ Although the number of deaths from lung cancer is falling, it still kills more than 35,000 people each year in the UK, which is more than any other cancer. The success of CT screening trials could potentially lead to the implementation of a national lung cancer screening programme, which could have an enormous impact on the future of all lung cancer treatment strategies. We could see significant changes in managing the disease, similar to the impact of breast screening over the last 15 years.”
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.”
Professor Ray Donnelly, founder of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said:
“ This is tremendous news and something I have dreamed of and campaigned for since I first set up the charity 20 years ago. It is a major step forward in the battle against lung cancer and I hope it will benefit thousands of people. It would not have happened if it were not for the research in early diagnosis that the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has been funding since 1993.”
The UKLS trial has been developed by clinical and screening trial experts across the UK.