By Emily Murray
Those who smoke often find it hard to quit even though they can likely rattle off a list of reasons that they should. If you are a former smoker, you likely can relate to this battle and if you are a current smoker, often the challenge can seem too overwhelming. Imagine if you got a very early diagnosis of lung cancer? Would you want to know?
Most of us would likely say “yes” since early detection is naturally the key to getting early treatment. This type of testing is now scheduled to be trialed on a group of high-risk smokers in Scotland and is said to be able to identify cancer 5 years sooner if all goes as planned.
This seemingly futuristic sounding test could detect the earliest signs of the presence of tumors in the body through a blood test. Essentially certain antibodies which are produced in response to cancer could alert doctors to the presence of the cancer much earlier than any other test. It’s likely you have heard of this type of testing involving antibody screening, but this trial will mark the first time they believe it will be sensitive enough to detect those triggered by early stage cancer.
The breakthrough trial will take place in Scotland and will consist of 10,000 “heavy smokers” which are defined as those at the highest risk because they are smoking at least 20 cigarettes/day. This testing is expected to yield it’s first results in 2014 and is scheduled to be underway before year’s end.
According to a recent Huffington Post article, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK with more than 41,000 people diagnosed each year. It makes sense that Scotland would be the best place to test this trial since it is known that is has one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world with the lowest survival rate past 5 years.
As with any type of cancer, early detection increases the chance for survival as there are more medical options available fro treatment in the early stages. If this trial proves to be successful, this could mean a very large and exciting breakthrough for perhaps getting one step closer to snuffing out cancer.