Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at an endobronchial ultrasound to diagnose lung cancer and see how far it has spread (Lung-BOOST)
This trial looked at a test called an endobronchial ultrasound after a CT scan to diagnose lung cancer.
Doctors usually use tests such as a CT scan and a bronchoscopy that looks inside the airways to diagnose lung cancer. You may need other tests to work out how far the cancer has grown and if it has spread (the stage of the cancer). Knowing the stage of the cancer is important as it helps doctors to work out the best treatment.
More about this trial
In this trial, researchers looked at a test called an endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) that can diagnose and stage lung cancer at the same time. EBUS is similar to having a bronchoscopy, but the doctor can see more. Both a bronchoscopy and EBUS can take samples of lung tissue but the EBUS can take samples through the airway wall which helps doctors to know how far the cancer has spread.
The researchers thought that having the ultrasound test after a CT scan could help doctors to diagnose and stage lung cancer faster. This means they can make decisions about the best treatment sooner. And it may mean that people need to have fewer tests.
The aims of the trial were to see if using an endobronchial ultrasound
- Lead to decisions about treatment being made sooner
- Is as accurate as other diagnostic and staging tests for lung cancer
- Is cost effective
Summary of results
The trial team found that an endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) was a useful test to diagnose lung cancer. It halved the time between testing and a treatment decision compared with the usual tests people have to diagnose and stage lung cancer. There was no additional cost and resulted in people having fewer other tests.
132 people took part in the trial. Everyone had already had a CT scan which suggested they had lung cancer that hadn’t spread outside of the chest.
- 64 people had an endobronchial ultrasound
- 2 people who weren’t able to have an EBUS had a similar test called an endoscopic ultrasound instead
- 66 people had the usual diagnostic tests such as a bronchoscopy
The number of people diagnosed with lung cancer after the tests was
- Just under 8 out of 10 people (76%) in the EBUS group
- Just under 9 out of 10 people (86%) in the usual test group
The researchers looked at the time to a treatment decision after having either test. This is the time it takes from first seeing specialist lung doctors to the doctors deciding on a treatment plan after all the tests have been done. They found that the average time to a treatment decision was 14 days in the EBUS group and 29 days in the usual test group. This means that people in the EBUS group had a treatment decision twice as fast as people in the usual test group.
The trial team looked at the number of tests each patient had to diagnose and check how far the cancer had grown. This was significantly lower for people in the EBUS group. 30 out of 66 people (45%) in the EBUS group were diagnosed after having just 1 test, compared with 8 out of 66 (12%) in the usual test group.
The researchers also compared the cost of both tests. They found that they were about the same.
The researchers concluded that using an endobronchial ultrasound to diagnose lung cancer halved the time between testing and a treatment decision. There was no additional cost and it resulted in people having fewer other tests. The trial team recommend that doctors use an EBUS for people who have suspected lung cancer that hasn’t spread outside the chest.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Dr Samuel Janes
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Medical Research Council (MRC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR North London Cancer Research Network
University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre