13th September 2021

New lung cancer screening study reduced deaths by 16%

View all Early detection

A new major study has found screening people with a history of smoking could significantly reduce the number of lung cancer deaths.

According to the UK Lung Cancer Screening Trial (UKLS), CT scans saw an increase in the number of people diagnosed with lung cancer earlier and cut deaths by 16%.

Lung cancer early detection and surgical intervention saves lives

Professor John Field, co-author of the UKLS trial

The trial involved nearly 4,000 people in Liverpool and Cambridge aged between 50 and 75, all of whom had been identified as ‘at risk’ of developing lung cancer within the next five years.

Between October 2011 and February 2013, over half of participants had a CT scan whilst the remaining participants received normal NHS care but did not have a scan. All participants were then followed up for the next seven years, in which 161 cancers were detected; 86 amongst the screened group and 75 in those who were not screened.

Of those who were diagnosed with lung cancer, there were fewer deaths in the group that had been screened (30 vs 46) thus providing further evidence surrounding the benefits of screening for lung cancer.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation,

“The results from the UKLS trial are incredibly encouraging in our continued fight to get ahead of lung cancer, keeping up the pressure for the implementation a national lung cancer screening programme in the UK.

We have campaigned for lung cancer screening throughout our charity’s history. Our charity was built on the importance of early detection, funding the first lung cancer researcher at the University of Liverpool, Professor John Field, the co-author of this study. Here we are over 30 years later, still calling for a national screening programme for lung cancer and providing the evidence to support it.

The results of this latest study are very apt, coming at a time when lung cancer is still reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. With lung cancer referral rates still below expected levels, we need to find a way to not only recover from the pandemic but bring lung cancer survival rates in line with other cancers. This study, along with many other similar trials, shows screening for lung cancer works and can save many lives. We need this intervention, and we need it now.”

The results of the trial, the latest to demonstration how CT screening can spot lung cancer early, have been sent to the UK National Screening Committee.

Dr. Chris Steele talked about this important study on today’s Health Headlines segment of ITV’s This Morning.

To catch lung cancer early with these low-dose CT scans is a very exciting step-forward.

Dr. Chris Steele, This Morning