Lung cancer stage shift following a symptom awareness campaign

An early diagnosis campaign for lung cancer began in Leeds, UK in 2011 which comprised of public and primary-care facing components. To assess the effect of this campaign, rates of referral for chest X-ray and lung cancer stage at presentation were collected between 2008 and 2015. Community ordered chest X-ray rates per year increased, and there was a significant stage shift towards earlier stage lung cancer. There was an 8.8% increase in the proportion of patients diagnosed with stage I/II lung cancers and 9.3% reduction in the absolute number of patients diagnosed with stage III/IV disease. Based on the study design, no casual link can be drawn between the campaign and the stage-shift seen in the UK, however the effect is plausible. This research highlights the potential effects of large scale symptom awareness campaigns, and future work needs to investigate whether these changes results in a significant reduction in lung cancer specific mortality.

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