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New diagnostic test could improve survival chances for lung cancer patients

·3 min read

A new test is being trialled in a bid to improve the early diagnosis of lung cancer which could increase the survival chances of patients.

A total of 10,000 people in Hampshire and Yorkshire will be invited to undergo the new iDx Lung diagnostic tests during the next three years.

Peter Johnson, professor of medical oncology at the University of Southampton, said: “We know that lung cancer can be treated successfully if we catch it early, but too often it can go unnoticed and is then picked up at a late stage when treatment options are more limited.

Brian Gray undergoing the iDx Lung test at the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit (Southampton Clinical Trials Unit/PA)
Brian Gray undergoing the iDx Lung test at the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit (Southampton Clinical Trials Unit/PA)

“By bringing some of the latest molecular technology to this problem, we hope that we can find better ways to detect lung cancer in its early stages and make sure people have the best chance of a cure.”

The trial, being run by the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Southampton and the University of Leeds, will involve those at high risk of lung cancer being offered a CT scan along with a nasal swab and blood sample for the test.

Victoria Goss, programme manager for iDx lung at the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, said: “These samples will be analysed for changes that could indicate the early signs of cancer developing.

“The aim is to determine whether using simple biological tests alongside the Targeted Lung Health Check programme can help increase diagnosis rates in people who have early signs of lung cancer, so they can begin treatment quickly when it is far more likely to be successful.”

Brian Gray, 72, from Southampton, who was one of the first to take part, said: “At my age I feel that being part of research is a good thing. If there’s anything in my body that can help someone else, then that’s great.”

Every year in the UK, 25,000 people are diagnosed with advanced, inoperable lung cancer, making it the biggest cause of cancer death in the UK and worldwide.

Screening with CT scanning is being tested by the NHS and it is hoped the iDx Lung trial will not only drive up early detection rates but will find more cost-effective ways to diagnose the disease.

The trial is being funded by a £2.75 million grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and £750,000 from Cancer Research UK and is part of a total investment of £10 million from the Government’s Early Diagnosis Mission.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Lung cancer remains one of Cancer Research UK’s cancers of unmet need, where survival has improved very little over the last 40 years despite continuous research efforts.

“Trials have shown that CT scanning people at increased risk of developing the disease can reduce lung cancer deaths, but combining CT screening with biomarker tests using blood and nasal samples may help to catch more cases of early stage disease, which can be easier to treat and we hope will lead to more people surviving their lung cancer.”