Scientists in the UK have supported lung cancer screening of high risk groups as such screening has found to be helpful in reducing mortality rates.
The recommendation is the result of the UK Lung Screening Trial (UKLS) – the first of its kind lung cancer CT screening trial in the UK. The study is published in the Lancet Regional Health Europe. The study showed similar results elsewhere outside the UK including the US National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) and the Dutch-Belgian NELSON trial.
In the trial, members of the high risk group aged 50-75 were assessed with the LLP risk score (for risk of developing lung cancer over five years). From October 2011 to February 2013, UKLS researchers randomly allocated 4,055 high risk participants to either a single invitation to screening with LDCT or to no screening (usual care).
1,987 participants in the intervention and 1,981 in the usual care arms were followed for approximately seven years. 86 cancers were diagnosed in the LDCT arm and 75 in the control arm. 30 lung cancer deaths were reported in the screening arm, and 46 in the control arm. The benefit in terms of lung cancer mortality was seen most strikingly in years 3 to 6 after randomisation.
The results from nine randomised controlled trials, including the UKLS, were included in the meta-analysis, which indicated a significant reduction in lung cancer mortality with a pooled overall relative rate of 0·84 from nine eligible trials (i.e. a 16% relative reduction in lung cancer).
According to corresponding author Professor John Field from the University of Liverpool, the findings highly recommend putting into place a long-term lung cancer screening or lung health programme incorporating LDCT screening in the UK.
Professor Stephen Duffy of the Queen Mary University and lead UKLS statistician voiced support stating that the evidence from the study in the UK sits well with what has already been found internationally and that low dose CT can be added as a tool in our armoury against lung cancer.