A new treatment which could prolong the lives of lung cancer patients is to be trialled nationally.
About 38,000 people are diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in the UK every year and normal life expectancy for patients is about eight months.
Tests in Liverpool showed a new combined treatment extended patients' lives by between one and five years.
Doctors gave 75 patients high doses of chemoradiation and radical radiotherapy between 1997 and 2004.
The research was carried out at the Liverpool Lung Cancer Unit and the results revealed at a meeting of the British Thoracic Society in London.
Life expectancy was extended to one year in 76% of those treated and two years in 45% of patients.
A total of 40% enjoyed an extra life expectancy of three years and 26% of patients were given five more years.
Researchers said the treatment was generally well tolerated by patients, whose quality of life significantly improved.
There were no deaths directly related to the treatment.
Dr Joe Maguire said: "Not all patients are suitable for this treatment unfortunately.
"But we have shown that it is an effective and safe treatment for those with locally advanced lung cancer who are generally fit otherwise and offers the prospect of significant long term survival."
'Ray of hope'
The method will be trialled nationally beginning in January 2005.
Professor Andrew Peacock, of the British Thoracic Society, said: "This research offers a ray of hope for some of the 38,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK every year.
"Yet unfortunately funding this kind of research into lung disease is not being given the national priority it deserves considering the huge burden it places on the NHS and society at large.
"There is an urgent need for increased funding for respiratory research in the UK."