Funding research into developing a simple blood test for lung cancer

We usually think that lung cancer (the biggest cancer killer in the world) only happens in smokers, but 10 to 20% of lung cancer occurs in ordinary people who have never touched a cigarette in their lives. At the moment there is no way to screen for people who are at risk simply because there are no established risk factors. As a result, usually of bad luck, anyone can get it. By the time symptoms occur it is usually late in the disease process.  

We want to pick up non-smoking lung cancer earlier when more treatment options are available and outcomes are better. Some of our patients who never smoked and came to us with an accidental finding of lung cancer provided some reflections.

Mrs Fisher who underwent surgery and chemotherapy commented:

I led a very healthy life and still do. I’ve never smoked and don't drink alcohol at all. Previously I was well. I had no symptoms at all until one day I started coughing up blood (that was the first and only symptom). When I received the diagnosis of lung cancer it was a shock, and it seemed like I had been given a death sentence.

Tom Janssen who underwent surgery and chemotherapy shared:

Of all the things one can get non-smoker lung cancer never crossed my mind. It all started with an innocent cough. I had a cough for most part of my life so it seemed nothing alarming. I felt absolutely fine. And that’s where the core of the problem of non-smoker lung cancer lies. It’s virtually impossible to detect this silent killer at an early stage, as there are no symptoms. Hence research to find ways to detect is crucial to save lives. I sure wish my cancer was discovered a bit sooner.

At Royal Brompton Hospital, we are developing a blood test for lung cancer. The early promising results from our group have already been presented at the most prestigious cancer meetings in America (ASCO 2014) and Europe (ESMO 2014). Now we are embarking on a research project to determine how good our test is in picking up cancer in patients who were non-smokers – the first step to determine if we can bring this new technology to screen for lung cancer in non-smokers.

Please donate today to support research into early non-invasive cancer diagnosis

Funds are overseen by Dr Eric Lim at Royal Brompton Hospital and used for research to develop a blood test for cancer diagnosis (so it is more accessible and acceptable to patients) with an aim to pick up cancer at an earlier stage (when more treatments options are available) and help doctors’ personalise care for cancer (through more precise selection of treatment).