Monday, 23 April 2012 12:23:35 Europe/London
Doctors in Scotland are pioneering a new screening programme that aims to detect signs of lung cancer at an early stage. The programme, which will involve GP’s at 60 practices in the country offering a blood test which detects antibodies linked with the disease, will be undertaken over the next four years. Where the initial blood test indicates higher levels of the antibody in question, the patient will then be sent for further investigative tests. Those at greatest risk of developing lung cancer, ie. long-term smokers, are to be the main target for the programme. The aim of the initiative is to increase survival rates of the disease, of which an estimated 8 out of 10 instances are thought to be smoking-related, through early detection. Lung cancer, which accounts for 35,000 deaths a year, has a very low survival rate. This is mainly due to the fact that the disease can take between 20 and 30 years to develop to the point whereby symptoms are observable, by which point it has often become untreatable. Statistics from research in Scotland have found that over half of those diagnosed with the disease do not survive longer than four months following diagnosis. The Scottish Health Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, commented: "If the disease is diagnosed early patients have a 60 per cent chance of survival, but if the cancer is well advanced the survival rate drops to just one per cent. Early detection is paramount”.
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