The UK’s largest lung cancer screening trial will take place in Leeds following a £5.2m investment by regional charity Yorkshire Cancer Research.
The trial, carried out in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, will test screening in mobile vans, which will travel to communities in the Leeds South & East and Leeds West CCGs.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Yorkshire, with around 4,500 people diagnosed with the disease every year 1. This differs from the national picture, where lung cancer is the third most common behind breast cancer and prostate cancer 1. 86% of lung cancers are caused by smoking 2, and Yorkshire has one of the highest rates of smoking in England 3.
More than half of lung cancer patients in Yorkshire are diagnosed when their cancer is very advanced 4, which means treatment options are limited and the chances of survival are extremely low. Screening those at high risk of developing lung cancer, for example smokers and ex-smokers, before they experience symptoms of the disease has been shown to reduce mortality rates by up to 20% in a US study 5. Screening means the cancer is more likely to be found at an early stage, when treatment options and the chances of survival are greater.
Led by Dr Matthew Callister, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the trial will focus on smokers and ex-smokers aged 55-80 years living in the Leeds South & East and Leeds West CCGs.
The two chosen areas have high lung cancer incidence and mortality rates. In 2014, 130 cases of lung cancer per 100,000 people were diagnosed in Leeds South & East, compared to the England average of 78 and the Yorkshire average of 951. In the same year, there were 93 deaths from lung cancer per 100,000 people in Leeds South & East, compared to the England average of 61 and the Yorkshire average of 736.
Around 7,000 people will be screened during the trial, which is expected to start in early 2018. This could lead to 289 cancers being diagnosed. 80% of patients diagnosed through screening are expected to survive 10 years.
As well as saving lives through early diagnosis, the findings from the trial will help to determine who should be invited for screening, and the results could be used to plan a national programme.
Dr Callister said: “Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Yorkshire, with most patients presenting with advanced, incurable disease. Checking people at high risk of lung cancer with regular scans detects early, curable cancer and reduces deaths by one fifth.
“Lung cancer screening is not currently available in the UK, and it is not clear exactly which people would most benefit. If lung cancer screening was introduced across Yorkshire, hundreds of lives could be saved every year.”
Kathryn Scott, Interim Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “We are extremely proud to be funding this very important trial. Lung cancer is without a doubt the biggest health problem facing our region and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure more people are diagnosed at the earliest possible stage. This is a unique opportunity to bring the very latest technology in lung cancer diagnosis to Yorkshire so it can be used for the people who need it most. We are incredibly grateful to all our supporters for making this investment possible.”
Dr Yvette Oade, Chief Medical Officer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the outcomes for lung cancer patients and we know that patients who are diagnosed at an earlier stage have better outcomes. We are enormously grateful that this investment enables us to undertake this important research.”
The lung cancer screening trial is part of a £7.2m investment by Yorkshire Cancer Research in ground breaking initiatives that will improve lung cancer outcomes and increase early diagnosis in Yorkshire. The funding follows expert workshops held last year, which were attended by more than 100 influential and experienced leaders in early diagnosis, which is key to improving survival, and lung cancer, the region’s leading cause of premature death.
Researchers at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will also join forces with the University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust to improve radiotherapy treatment for patients with lung cancer. Many lung cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy, and while recent advances in this area have led to more people being cured, it can lead to severe damage to the heart.
The study, funded by a £272,142 investment, will determine which areas of the heart are most susceptible to damage during radiotherapy, so that these areas can be avoided or protected. Reducing damage to the heart could improve one-year survival rates by around 10% and the findings could be applied in other cancers where radiotherapy is common such as breast cancer.
1. CancerData, Incidence, http://cancerdata.nhs.uk/incidence, Accessed [January 2017].
2. Parkin, Boyd and Walker, The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010, British Journal of Cancer 2011, 105: S1-S81.
3. Public Health England, Public Health Profiles, Health Profiles, Adults’ health and lifestyle – “Smoking prevalence”, http://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/health-profiles, Accessed [January 2017].
4. Cancer Commissioning Toolkit, Staging by Cancer site Public, 2013 – Stage data, https://www.cancertoolkit.co.uk/ExtractsReports/StagingByCancerSitePublic?downloadPackage=False, Accessed [December 2015].
Note: The data is no longer held at this location. Details are provided on how to obtain the data.
5. The National Lung Screening Trial Research Team, Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Low-Dose Computed Tomographic Screening, N Engl J Med 2011, 365:395-409 http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1102873#t=article
6. CancerData, Mortality, http://cancerdata.nhs.uk/mortality, Accessed [January 2017].
7. NCIN, Routes to diagnosis 2006-2013 workbook (b), http://www.ncin.org.uk/publications/routes_to_diagnosis, Accessed [April 2016].
Notes to Editors
- Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
- We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
- Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
- Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
- We aim to:
- Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
- Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
- Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
- Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
- Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
- For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter