Early diagnosis and the need for greater clinician and population awareness were at the heart of a roundtable discussion on lung cancer held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Personalised Medicine earlier this week.

There is an urgent need to improve outcomes for lung cancer, which is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK; only 5% of patients survive more than 10 years post diagnosis. But can personalised medicine offer hope? The event at the House of Lords involved parliamentarians meeting with clinician, patient, policy, charity and industry representatives to explore patient needs and scientific opportunities for more personalised and effective care.

New, non-invasive technologies for diagnosis and monitoring via blood samples or breath tests were discussed, along with prospects for earlier diagnosis in lung cancer, which is currently mostly diagnosed in its later stages when treatments are less effective; more personalised treatments are also being trialled. 

However, a recurring issue was the futility of trialling potentially transformative scientific innovations for diagnosis or treatment if the infrastructure is not in place for widespread NHS implementation, and without clinicians (specialists and general practitioners) being aware of such developments. Better public awareness of symptoms and the need to seek prompt medical advice was also noted to be necessary.

The meeting heard from medical experts Dr Sanjay Popat (Consultant Thoracic Medical Oncologist, The Royal Marsden) and Dr Robert Rintoul (Consultant Respiratory Physician, Papworth Hospital), as well as the all-important patient perspective from lung cancer survivor Janette Rawlinson, on behalf of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. 

Closing the meeting, APPG on Personalised Medicine chair Jo Churchill MP said: “This is about patients and outcomes and we must make things better”.

To learn more about the Group’s work, visit www.personalisedmedicineappg.org