How innovative technology can help with the early detection of lung cancer


To mark Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Graham Robinson, president of the British Society of Thoracic Imaging and consultant radiologist at UME Health, explores the importance of early diagnosis of lung cancer and explains how cutting-edge technology can aid detection

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in England, accounting for 21% of all cancer deaths in males and females combined. Currently, it is predicted that 16.2% of people diagnosed with lung cancer in England will survive their disease for five years or more, and only 3% of people whose diagnosis comes when the disease is at an advanced stage and curative treatment is no longer possible. However, a report by Cancer Research UK showed that when diagnosed at its earliest stage, almost six in 10 people (57%) will survive for five years or more.

It is clear, therefore, that a late diagnosis of lung cancer can have severe implications. Early detection of lung cancer is vitally important and can have life-saving effects. Although NHS pilot programs are currently running, there is currently no national lung cancer screening programme in England.

UME Health has recently partnered with the team of consultant cardiothoracic radiologists at Heart&Lung Health to launch a bespoke lung cancer assessment which utilises our new low-dose CT scanner. The service employs fully integrated artificial intelligence software, allowing automated lung nodule detection. lung nodule volume assessment. and an exact measure of any emphysema or lung scarring (fibrosis). A specialist report is then provided within 24 hours.

The scanner, which uses lower doses of radiation to acquire high-quality images, enables early diagnosis and can detect tiny lung nodules. With lung cancer rates continuing to grow across the UK, it is now more important than ever for those at risk to consider a lung cancer assessment.

So, who is at higher risk and should consider seeking out a lung cancer assessment?

The risk of developing lung cancer depends on many factors. These include:

Smoking tobacco is the biggest cause of lung cancer in the UK, with around seven out of 10 lung cancer cases being caused by smoking.

Air pollution
Air pollution can cause lung cancer; however, the risk depends on the level and how often you are exposed to it.

Family history
Your risk of lung cancer is higher if you have a close relative (such as a parent) who has previously had lung cancer.

Other risk factors
Other risk factors for lung cancer include the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or exposure to chemicals at work, including silica, asbestos or diesel exhaust.