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CT scan catches 70% of lung cancers at early stage, NHS study finds

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Thousands of lives could be saved if people at risk of developing Britain’s deadliest cancer were screened to diagnose it before it becomes incurable, a major NHS study has found.

Giving smokers and ex-smokers a CT scan uncovers cancerous lung tumours when they are at an early enough stage so they can still be removed, rather than continuing to grow unnoticed, it shows.

Experts are demanding the government moves to bring in routine CT scanning of smokers and ex-smokers in order to cut the huge death toll from lung cancer. About 48,000 people a year are diagnosed with the disease in the UK and 35,100 die from it – 96 a day.

Lung cancer is a particularly brutal form of cancer because it is hard to detect and three out of four cases are diagnosed at stage three or four, when it is already too late to give the person potentially life-saving treatment. However, the Summit study, being run by specialists in the disease at University College London Hospital NHS trust, offers real hope that lung cancer can become a condition that is detected early.

CT scanning meant that 70% of the growths detected in people’s lungs were identified when the disease was at stage one or two – a huge increase in the usual rate of early diagnosis.

“It’s really a major breakthrough for lung cancer,” Dr Sam Janes of UCLH, the senior investigator of the trial, told the Guardian. "Lung cancer has never had anything that enabled us to detect this devastating cancer earlier and offer curative treatment to this number of lung cancer patients.”

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Source: The Guardian, 14 February 2021

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