The first participants have taken part in a new research trial that aims to save lives by detecting lung cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable.
People attending the NHS Targeted Lung Health Checks in Southampton are being invited to take part in the iDx Lung trial, which will offer new types of tests to 10,000 people over the next 3 years.
Part-funded by Cancer Research UK, iDx Lung is a collaboration between the Cancer Research UK Southampton Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Southampton, the University of Leeds and healthcare and diagnostic companies.
The trial is currently taking place at the Royal South Hants Hospital, but in the autumn it will move to a mobile unit which can travel around the county with the NHS Targeted Lung Health Check vans.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said that lung cancer is a priority for the charity, as survival has improved very little over the last 40 years despite continuous research efforts.
“Trials have shown that CT scanning people at increased risk of developing the disease can reduce lung cancer deaths and combining CT screening with biomarker tests and using blood and nasal samples, it may help to catch more cases at an early stage of the disease, which can be easier to treat. We hope this will lead to more people surviving their lung cancer.”
Detecting lung cancer earlier
Every year in the UK, 25,000 people are diagnosed with advanced, inoperable lung cancer, making it the biggest cause of cancer death in the UK and worldwide.
Professor Peter Johnson, Director of the CRUK Southampton Centre and Chief Investigator of trial, said: “We know that lung cancer can be treated successfully if we catch it early, but too often it can go unnoticed and is then picked up at a late stage when treatment options are limited.”
Screening with CT scanning is already being tested by the NHS, but the iDx Lung team hope that they will be able to not only increase the number of people diagnosed earlier, but find more cost-effective ways to do so.
Harnessing the latest technology
The trial team are working alongside NHS England’s Targeted Lung Health Checks programme and Leeds Lung Health Check, where people at high risk of lung cancer are being invited to attend a CT scanning unit.
The iDx Lung trial will ask 10,000 people who attend the scans to also give a nasal swab and a blood sample.
Victoria Goss, Programme Manager for iDx Lung at the Cancer Research UK Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, said that these samples will then be analysed for changes that could indicate the early signs of cancer developing.
“The aim is to determine whether using simple biological tests alongside the Targeted Lung Health Check programme can help increase diagnosis rates in people with the very early signs of lung cancer, so they can begin treatment quickly when it is far more likely to be successful.”
The samples will be analysed by a number of companies testing out some of their latest technologies to find the best way to detect lung cancer at an early stage.
Collaborators for the trial include Roche Diagnostics, Oncimmune, Inivata, BC Platforms, the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson, and the Southampton Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC).
“By bringing some of the latest molecular technology to this problem, we hope that we can find better ways to detect lung cancer in its early stages and make sure people have the best chance of a cure,” said Johnson.
Julia Mangan July 2, 2021
Brilliant article, well done to all at CRUK, fantastic research work and amazing work by all the doctors, nurses and admin staff.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2019 which had spread to my lymph nodes. Had a CT scan of my thorax, abdomen and pelvis as part of staging and TNM, plus bone scans etc.
Three nodules were detected in my upper and lower lobules of my lungs. I was targeted with Chemo straight away, then surgery followed by radiotherapy. Then 18 months of immunotherapy drugs and letrozole.
A follow up scan after chemo showed no real changes to the nodules so I was told if they had been cancerous they would have changed/shrunk having been blasted with chemo for the breast cancer.
My notes say the lungs should be monitored but I’ve had no further CT scan since that chemo finished. My notes say they should be monitored!
I receive yearly mammograms.
I do wonder if I should pester and get them checked out – it just seems so hard to get these scans. I’m sure I’ll be told if I’ve got no issues or worries to not pester but should I based on my clinical history??
Pat Foxworthy July 2, 2021
Keep up the trials!
Monica Johnson July 1, 2021
I first noticed a cough with my partner on the 22nd of May 2020, subsequently when he came home from sea , he was a ships captain (due to covid he’d been away for eight weeks) on the 19th of June 2020 I noticed a significant weight loss (1 and a half stones) of course being a man “it’s nothing”, I contacted his GP on 24/6 and said I was really worried about him as he was living on cough medicine , I was told I couldn’t book an appointment for him he had to do it himself , finally two days later I persuaded him to make an appointment and go to his GP. COVID certainly impacted on his treatment , he missed a vital consultation with his lung consultant due to being hospitalised in one hospital who’s computer didn’t “speak” to his main hospital. It then took two weeks to get another , all the while he was going downhill fast , he was hospitalised on 24/8 due to a collapsed lung, I was only allowed to see him for an hour a day, I pleaded to get him home, and finally he got home on the 3rd of September and passed away in my arms on the morning of Sunday 6th September 2020. He died six weeks after diagnosis , with no back up from our GP nursing staff as the hospital hadn’t informed them he was home , no palliative care, and the MacMillan nurses were worse than useless, he saw them for five minutes on the 25th of August, his second day in hospital for the last time and we never heard from them again . Yes he’d been a smoker, but he’d been stopped for 15 years , his mother and seven of her siblings had all passed from cancer , and I have since found out he was eligible for screening from the age of 60 , due to his family history , why was that information not passed to him. He was only 65, the most loving and caring person I have ever met , he never got to enjoy the retirement he’d worked all his life for (since he was15) . Please , if his story can save someone else , don’t wait , contact your GP, push for your results , demand answers , demand screening , don’t let my Kenny have died in vain xx
Jenny Gilbert July 1, 2021
How do I volunteer?
Susan Jackson July 1, 2021
This is all very well and fantastic news – but first your GP needs to take you seriously. My husband was fobbed off for nearly a year by various GPs until I insisted on tests as his health was deteriorating rapidly. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and died six months later aged 50 leaving me and our two children. The GPs were arrogant and completely unhelpful. My experience shows me this hasn’t changed and since Covid, it’s virtually impossible to get near a GP. I suggest you put more pressure on GPs in the first instance.
c cowlard July 1, 2021
Excellent idea, my husband had a ct scan chest and pelvis, they saw prostate cancer but missed the lung cancer. It was picked up 5 months later by a 2nd scan, 1b, an op followed now terminal.
John Hall June 30, 2021
Very good and I agree entirely with more advanced testing early, I lost my wife due to late diagnosis . I am currently donating to the new Christie build in Macclesfield .
Julie Ellis June 30, 2021
Really great news that trials are going on for lung cancer, both my grandmother & Mum died of lung cancer, and their was no noticeable signs until it was too late. I wish you every success in your trials.