30th January 2020

Lung cancer screening saves 1 in 4 lives

View all Early detection

CT screening of high-risk people for lung cancer works, as the long-awaited results of the NELSON trial are published.

Figures from the Netherlands and Belgium based study confirmed widespread screening using low-dose CT scans can dramatically reduce the number of death from lung cancer.

After 10 years, the mortality rate for men who received regular screening was reduced by 24% compared to men who got no screening, while women saw a 33% reduction.

Lead study author, Dr Harry de Koning of Eramus Medical Center in Rotterdam described the decline as “significant and clear cut for males” and “even more effective in females“. Women, however, were somewhat under-represented in the study.

This is the second large trial showing lung cancer screening works and it shows an even bigger effect than the first trial.

Dr Harry de Koning, lead author of the NELSON study

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, responds by calling for the National Screening Committee to approve the implementation of a national Lung cancer screening programme:

“For years, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has been campaigning for a national lung cancer screening programme.

“We have seen data from the UKLS study in the US which showed a 20% reduction in mortality. We have seen success from the early adopters of targeted lung health checks, such as the Liverpool Healthy Lung Programme, Manchester and Yorkshire projects and our own funded pilot in Nottingham.

“Despite this, further evidence was required. We now have that evidence. In fact, the NELSON study surpasses previous studies, so we now have even stronger evidence.

“Too many lives have been lost already as we waited for further evidence. CT screening for high risk people for lung cancer works. There is no need to wait any longer. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to save lives.”