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Monday, 22 November, 1999, 04:09 GMT
Lung cancer screening on the horizon
Lung cancer a major killer of women, a conference will be told

Improved methods for detecting lung cancer could lead to a screening system similar to the one used for cervical cancer.

Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other malignancy in the developed world
Dr Jeremy George
A leading chest physician will today tell a conference on lung cancer in London that new tests for the disease could be made available to the public within years.

The conference, at the Royal Society of Medicine, will also hear that undue attention given to high profile conditions such as breast cancer is hampering lung cancer treatment and prevention.

Dr Jeremy George, a consultant chest physician at University College London Hospitals, will outline research into fluorescence bronchoscopy, a new way of detecting abnormalities which picks up the smallest cancers and pre-cancers.

Intense blue light

It does so using intense blue light in the patient's airway, which makes the damaged tissue fluorescent and therefore visible, unlike the current white light bronchoscopy method.

Dr George said: "Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other malignancy in the developed world, and has the poorest curative rates.

"This opens up the possibility of looking very carefully at extremely high risk patients such as heavy smokers and people who have been exposed to asbestos."

Early stage

He stressed, though, that the research was at an early stage and had yet to be evaluated though it was being investigated in the United States, Europe and Japan.

Professor Gordon McVie, of the Cancer Research Campaign, was also due to address the conference, highlighting the importance of combating smoking to bring down lung cancer rates.

"We wouldn't need to have a conference at all if we had an effective way of controlling tobacco," he said.

And he criticised the unbalanced concentration on conditions such as breast cancer. "Lung cancer gets one per cent of the coverage that breast cancer gets," he said.

"More women are now dying of lung cancer than breast cancer. If people talked about it as much as they do about breast cancer, we would make more of an impact."

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See also:
09 Jul 99 |  Health
Lung cancer screening call for smokers
01 Jun 99 |  Health
Lung cancer breakthrough
20 Jan 99 |  Health
Eight-year-olds call smoking helpline
07 May 99 |  Health
Cervical screening 'saved 1,300 lives'
15 Nov 99 |  Health
Appeal against tobacco ban
02 Nov 99 |  Health
Lung cancer grows among women

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