Lung can­cer hope as blood test proves ‘80pc ac­cu­rate’

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Sarah Bruce

A NEW blood test for lung can­cer that could save thou­sands of lives has been twice as suc­cess­ful as hoped.

In 2012, Scot­land be­came the first coun­try in the world to be­gin a large-scale pi­lot of the new tech­nique to tar­get the dis­ease, which kills 5,000 peo­ple north of the Bor­der ev­ery year.

The screen­ing de­tects the body’s re­ac­tion to can­cer rather than the dis­ease it­self, which can be more ob­vi­ous ear­lier in the ill­ness.

By the time most peo­ple show symp­toms of lung can­cer, it is too late to save them – giv­ing the new test the po­ten­tial to save thou­sands of Scots.

Sci­en­tists hoped the trial, co­funded by NHS Scot­land and run by Dundee Univer­sity, would pick up half of cases early enough to treat.

But re­mark­able pre­lim­i­nary find­ings from the study sug­gest it suc­cess­fully de­tects eight out of ten tu­mours.

Pos­i­tive re­sults could lead to a na­tion­wide screen­ing pro­gramme.

One of those whose can­cer was caught early by be­ing in the trial was Dundee woman Shirley Dolan.

Mrs Dolan said: ‘I would never have dreamt in a mil­lion years I had lung can­cer be­cause I didn’t feel ill, I didn’t have a cough, I wasn’t breath­less. With­out the test, we would never have known.

‘It was be­cause I joined this study that we found my can­cer at an early stage.’

Dur­ing the trial, health chiefs screened smok­ers and ex-smok­ers at the high­est risk of de­vel­op­ing lung can­cer. They used a blood test to check for an­ti­bod­ies linked with pro­teins present when can­cer is in its early stages. Pa­tients with in­creased lev­els of the an­ti­bod­ies were sent for a CT scan to find out if they had the dis­ease.

Sixty GP prac­tices across Scot­land tested around 10,000 pa­tients who were high­lighted as be­ing at higher risk of de­vel­op­ing the dis­ease over the next four years. Study leader Dr Stu­art Schem­bri said: ‘In the US, if you are a high-risk smoker, you will be ad­vised to get an an­nual CT scan. The dif­fi­culty about that is the US have a very dif­fer­ent way of pro­vid­ing healthcare – it in­volves in­sur­ance.

‘In the UK that is not the case – there is no na­tional screen­ing pro­gramme for lung can­cer.’

By fol­low­ing up the health data of par­tic­i­pants over the next ten years, re­searchers will be able to mea­sure if the blood test is re­li­able at de­tect­ing early can­cer and if this ac­tu­ally saves lives.

A de­ci­sion could then be made on es­tab­lish­ing a na­tion­wide lung can­cer screen­ing pro­gramme, sim­i­lar to bowel can­cer screen­ing, also led by the Univer­sity of Dundee.

‘Would never have dreamt I had it’

Beat can­cer: Shirley Dolan

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