Lung cancer screening trials start in East Anglia and Liverpool

The first steps are being taken towards developing a national screening programme for early detection of lung cancer.

The UK Lung Screening pilot is jointly run by the University of Liverpool and Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

It will look into the feasibility and costs of a programme similar to screening for breast and bowel cancers.

Smokers and ex-smokers from Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Liverpool are being asked to take part.

Thousands of "lifestyle questionnaires" are being sent to people aged between 50 and 75.

It is hoped that 2,000 volunteers from the Liverpool area and a further 2,000 from East Anglia will agree to participate.

'Potential cure'

Dr Robert Rintoul, a lung cancer specialist at Papworth Hospital, said: "This study will look at whether we could actually run a national programme, in terms of supporting it with expertise and necessary technology, and whether people will come forward to take part.

"Historically lung cancer has not had a good name, but when we catch it at an early stage there's a much better chance of treating it and potentially curing it."

The trial is being led by Professor John Field, director of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Research Programme, University of Liverpool Cancer Research Centre.

He said if successful, it 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 the managing of the disease, similar to the impact of breast screening over the last 15 years," he said.

The pilot trial is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA).

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