Detecting Lung Cancer earlier

How can healthcare providers get those at risk of lung cancer to see a doctor earlier? Researchers, lead by Professor Jon Emery, have found that by helping patients at high risk of lung cancer identify and monitor their symptoms, they are 40 per cent more likely to seek help from their doctor.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, with 1.3 million new cases diagnosed every year and one of the lowest survival outcomes of any cancer. The CHEST multi-site RCT builds on a Scottish trial of a behavioural intervention aimed at promoting earlier help-seeking for respiratory symptoms among adults at increased risk of lung cancer. Eligible participants were long-term smokers with at least 20 pack-years, aged 55 and above. The behavioural intervention consisted of a consultation to discuss and implement a self-help manual, followed by self-monitoring reminders to encourage help-seeking for respiratory symptoms.

In the intervention group, there was a 40% relative increase in respiratory consultations. There was no significant differences found in time to consultation, total consultation rates or measures of psychological harms. Results of this study indicate that a behavioural intervention has a specific effect on help-seeking for respiratory symptoms in patients at higher risk of lung cancer.

Lead author, University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research Professor, Jon Emery said: “A behavioural intervention like this can significantly increase consulting for respiratory symptoms in patients at increased risk of lung cancer, providing more opportunities for doctors to identify and diagnose lung cancer earlier in these high-risk patients.”