People at high risk of developing lung cancer have the chance to take part in a pioneering new screening trial launched in Leeds.
The Leeds Lung Health Check, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, will test if screening for early signs of lung cancer is a cost-effective way of saving lives.
The multi-million pound project, developed in a partnership between the University of Leeds, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Leeds City Council, will involve 7,000 people who smoke or have smoked.
Richard Neal, Professor of Primary Care Oncology at the University of Leeds and a GP in the city, is leading the project for the University.
Professor Neal said: This trial is likely to be a game-changer in how lung cancer is diagnosed for many people, as it gives us the chance to diagnose them at an early stage when effective treatments are available. GPs understand this, and that is why every practice in the parts of the city where we are doing this trial has signed up. That is quite remarkable.
The University has a wealth of experience in running large scale health projects like this, and we will harness this knowledge to deliver the biggest possible benefits for people across the city.
In 2016, 4,500 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in Yorkshire, and 3,340 people died from it. In some areas of Leeds, the lung cancer incidence rate is double the national average.
As well as saving lives, this trial will provide vital evidence that may help the government decide whether to introduce a national screening programme
The Leeds Lung Health Check will take place in hot spot areas of the city, where people are more likely to get lung cancer. GPs will invite patients who smoke or have smoked to take part in a lung function test and a CT scan to detect very early signs of lung cancer.
The checks are being carried out in mobile units. These will travel to community locations, such as supermarket car parks and shopping centres, so people can take part more easily.
Senior radiographer Shinu Thomas with a patient undergoing a CT scan
Patients who take part in the Leeds Lung Health Check will be monitored and compared with a matched group of people who do not take part, to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention at detecting cancers and saving lives.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Yorkshire. It is frequently diagnosed at a late stage when treatment options are more limited and survival rates are lower. Screening can help detect lung cancer before any signs or symptoms develop.
As well as saving lives, this trial will provide vital evidence that may help the government decide whether to introduce a national screening programme.
Dr Mat Callister, Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Leeds and Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, is leading the project. He estimates that 270 lung cancers will be detected during the seven-year programme.
Trials in the US found that 8 in 10 patients diagnosed with lung cancer through screening will be alive 10 years after treatment, compared to just 1 in 10 for those diagnosed after developing symptoms.
Dr Callister said: Wed like people to think of these checks as an MOT for their lungs. Were all used to taking our cars to get checked each year to make sure the tyres and brakes are working fine. Were doing the same thing with peoples lungs checking lung function, oxygen levels and doing a special scan to look for early signs of disease.
Were trying to find people who would otherwise arrive in our clinics in two or three years time with advanced cancer, and instead find their cancer at an early stage when we can treat and cure their disease.
Patients who are eligible to take part in the lung screening will be contacted by their GP surgery and invited to take part.
For more information about the Leeds Lung Health Check please visit: https://www.leedslunghealthcheck.nhs.uk/
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