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Research brings hope for prevention and treatment of lung cancer

While it may be Yorkshire’s biggest cause of cancer-related death, the outlook for people with lung cancer is improving, thanks to research. Find out more about the lung cancer research your donations are making possible.

A nurse from the Leeds Lung Health Check smiling at the camera, with lung scans showing on the computer behind her

Lung cancer is Yorkshire’s biggest cause of cancer-related death, causing 58 families to lose a loved one every week in our region. Every week, 82 people in Yorkshire are diagnosed with the disease.

But while these statistics may seem bleak, there is also hope. Medical research is constantly finding better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat lung cancer, and improve the chances of survival for those who are diagnosed.

Below are just some of the ways that your support of Yorkshire Cancer Research is helping to improve the outlook for lung cancer in our region.

A member of the Yorkshire Stop Smoking Team with vaping device

Stopping people from getting lung cancer

Research has shown that as many as 8 in 10 cases of lung cancer could be prevented, and 7 in 10 are linked to smoking. As well as lung cancer, tobacco smoking causes at least 14 other types of cancer. It is an addiction that most people want to quit, but need help doing so.

To find the most effective ways of helping people quit, we’re trialling a new approach in the Yorkshire Stop Smoking Study, where people attending lung screening appointments are offered stop smoking advice and support at the same time. The hope is that this ‘one-stop-shop’ approach is more effective at helping people to quit than other services. And so far, the results have been promising – more than 8 in 10 people have taken up the offer of support, and the study has already helped over 500 people quit smoking.

We’re funding trials of new stop smoking services in other areas too. As part of the QUIT Programme in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, anyone admitted to hospital who smokes is offered nicotine replacement therapy and support led by tobacco treatment advisors funded by the charity. And we’ve been working with Kirklees Council to offer vaping devices to expectant mothers and other adults who smoke, to help them quit for good. Of 399 people who chose to use a vaping product through the pilot project, 302 (76%) successfully quit smoking for four weeks during the trial and a quarter of these people are expected to become life-long quitters. We are planning to use the learning and recommendations from the Kirklees pilot to fund similar vaping programmes across Yorkshire.

Around 6%

of all recorded four-week quits in Yorkshire in 2021/22 were directly due to the charity’s funded awards.

A healthcare professional looking at scans of lungs

Spotting the signs earlier

Early diagnosis is vital – the earlier that lung cancer is picked up, the better the chances of survival. However, symptoms of lung cancer can be hard to spot, and by the time people seek medical help, the disease has often progressed to a more advanced stage.

Yorkshire Cancer Research is funding programmes aimed at spotting lung tumours earlier, and encouraging more people to come forward with symptoms sooner.

The Yorkshire Stop Smoking Study mentioned above is part of a ground-breaking clinical trial called the Leeds Lung Health Check. People who have a history of smoking are invited by their GP to have CT scans of their lungs in a mobile unit, placed at convenient locations like supermarkets and shopping centres. Since launching four years ago, more than 7,000 people have taken part, over 14,000 lung scans have been carried out, and more than 250 lung cancers have been diagnosed.

Crucially, the findings of this trial have helped lay the groundwork for a national lung screening programme – a “landmark decision in lung cancer care in this country”, according to Professor Mat Callister, who leads the study.

We’re also trialling new early diagnosis approaches in Hull. The Check Your Lungs campaign is working with GP practices to look out for people who might have symptoms of lung cancer. And a new study in Hull is developing a lung health campaign tailored for workplaces, to encourage more people to seek help for any lung symptoms.

Male clinician looking at a lung screening image on a PC monitor

Improving treatment and improving lives

Typical treatments for lung cancer include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, as well as new targeted drugs. Yorkshire Cancer Research is funding programmes to help improve lung cancer therapy, ensuring people get the most effective treatment for them while minimising side-effects.

Scientists in Sheffield are analysing cutting-edge MRI images to see if they can reveal clues to help doctors select the best treatment options for people with lung cancer.

In Leeds, we’re funding a trial of an education and lifestyle programme, including exercise and dietary advice and stop-smoking support, to see if it can improve the wellbeing and likelihood of survival for people with lung cancer being treated with radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy is a key part of treatment for many people with lung cancer, but it can also cause damage to the heart. Researchers in Leeds are identifying areas of the heart that are most vulnerable to damage caused by radiotherapy, so that these areas can be avoided or protected. Reducing this damage to the heart could improve survival among people with lung cancer, and the findings could be applied to other cancers such as breast cancer.

Thanks to you

All this work is only possible thanks to donations from supporters like you. We share the same vision of a world where cancer no longer destroys lives and breaks families apart.

Funding cutting-edge research is the best way to achieve this, and your support for research gives us hope for a better future for people with lung cancer, in Yorkshire and beyond.

Donate today

The main symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • a cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks,
  • a long-standing cough that gets worse,
  • chest infections that keep coming back,
  • coughing up blood,
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing,
  • persistent breathlessness,
  • persistent tiredness or lack of energy,
  • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

If you or someone you know have had any of the symptoms above, make sure to get an appointment with a GP as soon as possible.

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