New blood test provides breakthrough in lung cancer detection rates

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

Lung cancer patients have been given fresh hope after research has revealed the disease could be detected earlier thanks to pioneering new blood test.

Research developed by the University of Nottingham, along with support from St Andrews University, has revealed taking the EarlyCDT-Lung blood test resulted in a 36% reduction in late stage lung cancer diagnosis compared to standard clinical practice.

The significant reduction in time taken to diagnose lung cancer could help save some of the 35,000 people in the UK who die of the disease.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK and 85% of cases are detected in the advanced stage, reducing survival rates.

This breakthrough could lead to early intervention, making surgery an option, ultimately prolonging or saving lives and reducing the burden on the NHS.

Professor John Robertson, whose research at the University of Nottingham helped lead to the breakthrough, said: “The EarlyCDT-Lung blood test, which is commercially available through Oncimmune, is the result of more than two decades of research from a creative idea through laboratory research, product development and randomised clinical trial.”

He added: "It was very satisfying to see it being supported in the NICE review earlier this year and to follow its increasing use in many countries across the world for the early detection of lung cancer.”

Most of lung cancers are not detected until the advanced stage. Credit: Thinkstock

Longer follow-up in the ECLS study is ongoing and, based on these earlier stage results, it is expected that a significant reduction in lung cancer deaths will also be shown in a subsequent publication.

The ECLS study involved 12,215 people who were either smokers or ex-smokers at high risk of developing lung cancer.

Participants were ramdonised as to whether they received the EarlyCDT-Lung test or the current standard of care.

The EarlyCDT-Lung test was able to detect whether an individual’s immune system had produced antibodies against cancer antigens, which were detected in their blood.

If the test was positive the participants were scheduled to have CT scans of the chest every six months for two years unless a lung cancer was diagnosed within the two-year period.

The trial is the first of its kind carried out across the world and could revolutionise the treatment of lung cancer patients.