US lung cancer screening result "encouraging" says Cancer Research UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

A large US study has suggested that annual chest x-rays could detect lung cancer earlier and dramatically increase the number of patients still alive ten years after their diagnosis.

According to the team's calculations, detecting and treating the disease in its earliest stages would allow doctors to almost reverse current death rates ? turning a 95 per cent mortality rate at ten years to a 92 per cent survival rate.

Lung cancer is normally only treatable by surgery if it is diagnosed early.

"We believe this study provides compelling evidence that screening for lung cancer offers new hope for millions of people at risk from this disease and could dramatically reverse lung cancer death rates," said lead author Dr Claudia Henschke.

"This is an encouraging result," added Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK. "There are several studies underway around the world looking at lung cancer screening.

"However, we won't have a definitive answer as to whether it will prove effective - medically or economically - or as to who should be screened, until all the results are in."

The study was launched at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Centre in 1993 and has since expanded to include 38 institutions across seven countries.

Around 31,567 people took part in the study, the largest long-term study on the effectiveness of lung cancer screening.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Find out about lung cancer screening on our patient information site, CancerHelp UK