25th April 2023

New trial to speed up lung cancer treatment in Wales

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People with suspected lung cancer in Wales will soon have access to a new diagnostic blood test in a bid to speed up treatment of the disease.

Instead of needing an invasive tissue biopsy, patients in the trial, which is being done by the All-Wales Medical Genomics Service (AWMGS), Illumina technology, Life Sciences Hub Wales, will have a liquid biopsy.

A liquid biopsy sees DNA is extracted from the blood. The results will allow healthcare professional to understand what type of lung cancer a patient has and enable them to start on the best treatment sooner.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation welcomes the news:

“Anything that can be done to speed up someone’s diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer, in our opinion, should be done so it is exciting to see the implementation of a trial for liquid biopsy in Wales.

“Going through a lung cancer diagnosis is a highly traumatic experience – both physically and emotionally – and this awful situation is only made more harrowing by having to wait for test results and starting treatment. Your mind goes to the very worst scenario – you could have a life-threatening disease which is only getting worse with every day that passes without treatment.

This test could help reduce the number of days or weeks someone must wait because finding out their diagnosis. It could help avoid many sleepless nights filled with fear and distress and get people on active, life-lengthening treatment sooner, especially in the current climate when our NHS is under constant pressure.

“We all know with lung cancer days matter, so this is an encouraging step forward to improve the lung cancer pathway and, most importantly, the patient experience.”

What is a liquid biopsy and how does it work?

A liquid biopsy is a blood test that detects cancer cells or DNA that are circulating in the blood. It is performed just like a standard blood test, making it far less invasive and quicker than a tissue biopsy.

Like healthy cells, cancer cells die and are replaced. When these dead cells break down, they are released from the tumour into the bloodstream. A liquid biopsy detects the small pieces of DNA in the bloodstream from these cancer cells.

Should the trial be successful, it has the potential to provide a simple, accessible and reliable means of investigating suspected cancer as well as less invasive monitoring for cancer recurrence.

For more information about liquid biopsy, or for any questions about lung cancer, contact our nurses on 0800 358 7200 or email lungcancerhelp@roycastle.org