GPs will pilot a major screening programme for early-stage lung cancer in all high risk smokers, the Scottish Government has announced.
The scheme across 60 GP practices in Scotland will be the first in the world to assess the population-level results of using antibody levels to identify patients that may have lung cancer.
GPs in Scotland will be asked to look at the level of antibodies in 10,000 smokers classified as high risk of developing lung cancer over the next four years. Those with high levels will be referred for a CT scan.
Scotland has nearly 5,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer each year, double the rate for the UK as a whole.
Announcing the programme, Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said they planned to increase the detection of early stage lung cancer by 25%
She said: ‘We are the first country in the world to carry out a structured, population assessment of this test.’
‘If it works, it could lead to lung cancer being diagnosed, not just months, but in some cases, years earlier.’
Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns added: ‘By testing those at greatest risk of developing lung cancer, and diagnosing it at its earliest possible stage, we stand a better chance of being able to treat the cancer successfully.’