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Earlier diagnosis of lung cancer in a randomised trial of an autoantibody blood test followed by imaging

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 30/07/21)


Frank M. Sullivan, Frances S. Mair, William Anderson, Pauline Armory, Andrew Briggs, Cindy Chew, Alistair Dorward, John Haughney, Fiona Hogarth, Denise Kendrick, Roberta Littleford, Alex Mcconnachie, Colin McCowan, Nicola Mcmeekin, Manish Patel, Petra Rauchhaus, Lewis Ritchie, Chris Robertson, John Robertson, Jose Robles-Zurita & 8 more Joseph Sarvesvaran, Herbert Sewell, Michael Sproule, Thomas Taylor, Agnes Tello, Shaun Treweek, Kavita Vedhara, Stuart Schembri

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The EarlyCDT-Lung test is a high specificity blood-based autoantibody biomarker that could contribute to predicting lung cancer risk. Here we report on the results of a phase IV biomarker evaluation of whether using the EarlyCDT-Lung test and any subsequent CT scanning to identify those at high risk of lung cancer reduces the incidence of patients with stage III/IV/Unspecified lung cancer at diagnosis, compared with the standard clinical practice at the time the study began.

ECLS was a randomised controlled trial of 12 208 participants at risk of developing lung cancer in Scotland. The intervention arm received the EarlyCDT-Lung test and, if test positive, low-dose CT scanning six-monthly for up to 2 years. EarlyCDT-Lung test negative and control arm participants received standard clinical care. Outcomes were assessed at 2 years post-randomisation using validated data on cancer occurrence, cancer staging, mortality and comorbidities.

At 2 years, 127 lung cancers were detected in the study population (1.0%).

In the intervention arm, 33/56 (58.9%) lung cancers were diagnosed at stage III/IV compared to 52/71 (73.2%) in the control arm. The hazard ratio for stage III/IV presentation was 0.64 (95% confidence interval 0.41, 0.99). There were non-significant differences in lung cancer and all-cause mortality after 2 years.

ECLS compared EarlyCDT-Lung plus CT screening to standard clinical care (symptomatic presentation), and was not designed to assess the incremental contribution of the EarlyCDT-Lung test. The observation of a stage-shift towards earlier-stage lung cancer diagnosis merits further investigations to evaluate whether the EarlyCDT-Lung test adds anything to the emerging standard of LDCT.



Original languageEnglish
Article number2000670
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
VolumeEarly View
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2020

    Research areas

  • Lung cancer, Diagnosis, Autoantibodies, Screening

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