Screening trial for lung cancer planned for UK

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 29 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:270
  1. Roger Dobson
  1. Abergavenny

    Leading specialists meet on Monday to draw up plans for a UK screening trial for lung cancer in smokers and former smokers. The multicentre trial would probably involve using annual, low radiation dose computed tomography of several thousand volunteers, with the aim of detecting cancers at a stage when they can be removed surgically.

    Dr Ian Smith, chairman of the Lung Cancer Group of the UK Co-ordinating Committee for Cancer Research, whose working party on screening meets on Monday, said that he was optimistic that the trial could start within the next few months.

    Interest in lung cancer screening has revived since publication of a report of the Early Lung Cancer Action Project in New York (Lancet 1999:354:99-105),which screened 1000,asymptomatic volunteers aged over 60 with a history of smoking and no previous cancer. Of the 27 cancers detected with computed tomography, 26 were resectable.

    The team, led by Professor Claudia Henschke of Cornell University and New York Presbyterian Hospital concluded that low dose computed tomography can greatly improve the likelihood of detection of small non—calcified nodules.

    Dr Smith, who is also medical director at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, said, “The evidence so far is fairly compelling that lung cancer screening could be a big benefit, but we think the best way forward is to have a large randomised trial.”

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