Lung cancer insight

01 September 2012


Dr Ian Woolhouse

Dr Ian Woolhouse

UHB is recruiting patients for a clinical trial which could help improve ways to identify patients who will develop lung cancer.

Doctors usually diagnose lung cancer after somebody develops symptoms or has an abnormal chest X-ray.

By that time, the cancer can be quite advanced.

If it can be found earlier, treatment is more likely to be successful.

A biomarker is a substance in the body which doctors can measure and use to see if a disease is developing.

In this trial, known as MEDLUNG, researchers will take samples of phlegm.

This will be analysed using a test called Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), which works by shining a beam containing many different frequencies of light at once, and measures how much of that beam is absorbed by the sample.

The aim of this national study, which is being led by the University of Swansea, is to find a biomarker that doctors may be able to use in the future to screen people for lung cancer.

Respiratory Consultant Dr Ian Woolhouse, leading the research at UHB, said:“This study is unique in that instead of extracting DNA from the sample and looking at it in the lab, we are looking at using FTIR,” he says.

“At the moment, when we look for signs of lung cancer we would get a sample from the lung or bone marrow and test it. That’s very uncomfortable for the patient and is also slow and expensive.

“This trial is about finding faster, easier, cheaper ways of finding the information and identify lung cancer much earlier. Ultimately, that will be better for patients.”