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Research sheds new light on lung cancer screening in Europe

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The European Society of Radiology (ESR) is pleased to announce the publication of an important joint statement with the European Respiratory Society (ERS) on lung cancer screening (LCS) in Europe.

Endorsed by both societies, the paper contains a contemporary, non-systematic review of the literature and common practice in LCS in Europe and also refers to the results of a Dutch-Belgian randomised lung cancer screening trial (NELSON trial).

Reviewing at current practices

Intended as an update to a previous ESR-ERS working group white paper on lung cancer screening from 2015, the statement was published simultaneously in European Radiology and the European Respiratory Journal.

Focusing on new findings and current discussions surrounding screening programmes, it reviews the evidence from LCS trials, offering a description of current practice, as well as aspects that have not received significant attention until now.

The next steps in screening

The ESR and ERS agree that Europe’s health systems need to adapt to allow citizens to benefit from organised pathways, rather than unsupervised initiatives, to allow early diagnosis of lung cancer and reduce the mortality rate.

The authors argue that now is the time to set up and conduct demonstration programmes focusing on methodology, standardisation, tobacco cessation, education on healthy lifestyles, cost-effectiveness and a central registry.

Both the ESR and ERS anticipate that the publication of the paper will stimulate further discussion and action on the implementation of lung cancer screening programmes in European countries.

The benefits of working together

The paper was written by members of the ESR-ERS working group who have been collaborating on the statement since early 2018.

Chaired by Professor Hans-Ulrich Kauczor of University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany, and the German Centre of Lung Research, the group consists of 22 representatives from the ESR and ERS, including radiologists, pulmonologists, thoracic oncologists, thoracic surgeons, psychologists, epidemiologist, molecular biologists, health care managers and patients.

In addition, members of the patient advisory committee of the European Lung Foundation (ELF) offered their unique perspective on screening programmes in Europe.

Early diagnosis and lung cancer

On publication of the joint statement, Professor Kauczor said, “All stakeholders involved are convinced that patients and citizens will benefit from early diagnosis of lung cancer and that screening will significantly reduce the mortality of the number one killer worldwide – cancer.

“We emphasise the importance of advocacy by major European and national medical societies and patient organisations to raise public awareness.”

The publication of the paper is another crucial milestone, following a joint event organised by ESR, ERS and Lung Cancer Europe (LuCE) at the European Parliament in November 2019.

The event saw the launch of a factsheet on lung cancer, which called for an update to the 2003 European Council Recommendation on cancer screening, and for member states to share best practice and gradually implement lung cancer screening programmes while upholding the highest standards of care and patient safety.

More information about the event can be found here | To read the paper in European Radiology click here | To read the paper in the European Respiratory Journal click here

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