New technique tested at UCLH halves diagnosis time for lung cancer patients 

04/02/2015 00:00 
UCLH clinicians have identified a new technique which has halved the time between the first hospital visit and treatment for lung cancer patients.
 

The technique uses an endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS), a flexible tube with an ultrasound attached to one end, to see and biopsy lymph nodes in the middle of the chest which had previously been difficult to reach.

The findings of a three-year clinical study into the use of the technique were published in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine today.

Professor Sam Janes, one of the authors of the paper, said: “The diagnosis and staging of lung cancer is an important process that identifies treatment options and guides disease prognosis.

"Lung cancer can take an age to diagnose and stage so we looked a new technique to try and shorten the time. This test has led to significantly increased survival times, although further study is needed to establish the reasons.”

In the new test group, patients waited 14 days for their treatment decision compared to 29 days in the traditional arm.

The new test gives doctors the ability to both diagnose and stage patients in one test, after the initial CT scan. This led patients to undergo fewer tests and outpatient appointments overall, and the outcome was that they survived for 503 days after diagnosis compared to 312 days.

“This is likely because they were fitter at the start of their treatment and possibly because they were more accurately staged and therefore had the correct treatment in more cases,” said Professor Janes.

In an interview on the BBC’s Today programme on Radio 4 this morning, he also stressed that the new technique was cost neutral, which meant that the test could be rolled out widely as the equipment was available. The full interview can be heard here, starting from about 1 hour 50 minutes in.

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