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NHS begins Britain's biggest-ever lung cancer screening study at Mile End Hospital

PUBLISHED: 17:00 08 August 2019

Mile End Hospital... where biggest-ever ever cancer screening is now under way. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mile End Hospital... where biggest-ever ever cancer screening is now under way. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

The largest ever lung cancer screening study in Britain has begun seeing volunteer patients at Mile End Hospital.

Cancer screening team at Mile End Hospital. Picture: NHSCancer screening team at Mile End Hospital. Picture: NHS

The screening is part of a study to improve early detection of lung cancer - when it can be treated successfully.

The aim is to help develop a blood test for detecting lung and other cancers at the early stages.

Researchers hope to recruit 50,000 men and women aged 50 to 77 for screening at Mile End, University College, King George and Finchley Memorial hospitals, anyone who has been identified by their GP as having a need to be screened.

"A study this size is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change how lung cancer is diagnosed," UCL professor of respiratory medicine Sam Janes said.

Prof Sam Janes... Prof Sam Janes... "A study this size is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change how lung cancer is diagnosed." Picture: NHS

"We're grateful for the co-operation of local GPs. This could lead to a national screening programme and play a vital part in the global efforts to develop a blood test for diagnosing cancers."

Lung cancer kills 35,000 people in Britain each year, the highest death rate of all cancers, researchers point out. Tower Hamlets statistics show the East End is a high risk area.

The first phase of the study is screening 25,000 people at a higher risk of cancer due to their smoking habits. Another 25,000 who are low risk who have never smoked or smoke less will be invited to take part in screening later and give a blood sample for analysis to evaluate whether lung or other cancers can be detected early.

Patients are being invited by letter for the screenings if their GP practice is taking part in the study. They have a blood test, then have a low dose CT scan of their lungs.

NHS annual campaign with Tower Hamlets Council to persuade the public to give up smoking, the biggest cause of lung cancer. Picture: Kois MiahNHS annual campaign with Tower Hamlets Council to persuade the public to give up smoking, the biggest cause of lung cancer. Picture: Kois Miah

The study is being carried out by University College London, the UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the biomedical research centre of the National Institute for Health Research.

Results are being analysed by Grail healthcare company in California whose mission aims to alleviate "the worldwide burden of cancer" with technology to detect cancers early, using next-generation sequencing, population studies and computer science to improve understanding of cancer biology.

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