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At the end of last year, The Lancet published a European position statement on lung cancer screening, which stated that lung cancer screening with low-dose CT can save lives and should be considered by health services in EU countries.
Speaking to MI, Director of the NCCP Dr Jerome Coffey said as a result of the position paper, the Programme will conduct a literature review to examine whether lung cancer screening should be introduced in Ireland.
“We have rapid diagnosis clinics for lung cancer, which we have established very successfully,” Dr Coffey said. “We are probably leading in terms of tobacco control interventions. But screening is something we don’t do. Now, we would only do it if there is going to be a benefit to it. The question is, is the evidence strong enough to do it? So we are going to consider the evidence this year.”
Dr Coffey stressed there was no commitment yet to introduce screening for potential lung cancer patients. The NCCP will make a decision on its position following the literature review and then make a recommendation to the Department of Health on the basis of the available evidence.
Also speaking to MI, HSE-NCCP Lung Tumour group chairperson Dr Marcus Kennedy said screening should be considered as a way to identify patients who have lung cancer at an earlier stage. “So I think we need to be thinking about not only getting the symptomatic patients through, which is what we are doing now, but I think we need to start thinking about screening as well,” he said.
Dr Kennedy also said that if lung cancer screening was introduced, it would require “significant resources”.