Blackpool research team could help save the lives of lung cancer patients

Medics in Blackpool are carrying out potentially life-saving research which could help reduce the number of deaths from lung cancer.

Tuesday, 1st August 2017, 12:32 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:42 pm
The Lung Study Research Team at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

The North West has the third highest rate in England for people developing lung cancer, and each year in Blackpool there are around 115 deaths due to the disease.

Now 105 patients with symptoms such as a persistent cough, bloodstained sputum, shortness of breath and unexplained weight loss have signed up to take part in the study at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Clinical Research Centre.

It is hoped to discover ways of diagnosing the disease sooner.

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Vasanthi Vasudevan, a research nurse for the Trust, said: “If you detect lung cancer at ‘stage one’, out of 100 people, 83 people will survive at least one year.

“At a later stage, ‘stage four’, only 17 people out of 100 will survive at least one year.

“If the research can identify indicators that are present in potential patients, we will be able to conduct further research to develop preventive therapies and save lives in the future.”

The main risk factor for lung disease is smoking, and Blackpool has a higher than average number of smokers.

The adult smoking rate for the town was 22.5 per cent last year, compared to 15.5 per cent nationally.

More residents are being urged to come forward and take part in the research.

Experts are also looking for ‘biomarkers’ - naturally occurring molecules, genes, or characteristics by which a particular disease can be identified.

Respiratory research nurse Philomena Shooter said: “We’ll be looking for signs or risks of lung cancer.

“If it’s successful, diagnosis will be a lot easier. Hopefully, the machine we use to collect the breath samples will tell us if a person is at risk of developing lung cancer.”

The work, initiated by the Roy Castle Cancer Foundation, is being led by the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Trust with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals the only other Trust in the UK participating.

Ms Shooter added: “Patients have been happy to participate in the study because they realise early diagnosis is hugely important.

“This study could save lives and Blackpool is contributing in a big way.

“We encourage everyone to participate in our studies. We need normal samples as well. It doesn’t mean you have lung cancer if you are taking part in this trial.”

Michelle Stephens, research and development manager, added: “Without our patients joining the trials that we run, we would not be in a position to help contribute to major breakthroughs of new diagnoses and treatments.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the research can call the clinical research centre on 01253 951514 or email [email protected]