16 July 2019
News Category: 

The Royal Melbourne Hospital is leading an international trial to investigate whether a CT scan is the best method in detecting early lung cancer.

Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), with national and international collaborators, the hospital is performing a large-sample study to determine the best way to use a CT scan for early lung cancer screening.

While in its infancy, the study has already recruited over 300 participants and detected four early stage cancers.

The trial has been born out of overseas research that shows CT screening can reduce deaths from lung cancer, as the cancer is usually found in later stages.

Associate Professor Lou Irving, Head of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine and lead researcher on the trial, said it is important to test whether the screening was appropriate for an Australian health care system, considering the findings abroad.

“The overall survival and cure rate for lung cancer is 15 per cent,” Associate Prof Irving said.

“That’s horrific compared to other cancers in the order of 70, 80 and 90 per cent.

The reason for this is when lung cancers are diagnosed it has usually spread, and a surgical cure can only be used in a minority of people.”

Lung cancer kills more Australians than any other cancer, accounting for more than 8,000 deaths in 2016.

Researchers are seeking to recruit 500 people for the trial, from sites in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Canada.

Participants must:

  • Be aged between 55 - 80 years
  • Have a current or previous cumulative cigarette smoking history of > 30 pack years (packs per day multiplied by the number of years smoked)
  • Or, as a former smoker, have quit smoking within the previous 15 years.

Participants in the trial will undergo CT scans, respiratory function tests, blood samples, quality of life questionnaires and be linked to smoking cessation programs.

For more information on the trial, and to participate, please visit https://www.thermh.org.au/research/clinical-trials/7357

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