A GLASGOW grandmother says she feels like the “luckiest woman in the world” after a simple blood test picked up her lung cancer before she had any symptoms and 20 months before the tumour was visible in a scan.

Life-long smoker Rebecca Allison, from Carntyne in Glasgow’s East End was picked to take part in what is thought to be the world’s largest controlled study using blood biomarkers to detect the presence of early-stage lung cancer.

The grandmother-of-two’s test showed her immune system were responding to the presence of lung cancer cells but there was no evidence of any tumours in an X-ray, carried out two weeks later.

A further CT scan came back negative and it wasn’t until her fourth scan, 20 months later, that a 5cm tumour on her lung was visible - but Rebecca was still not displaying any symptoms.

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Surgeons at the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank were able to operate successfully in December 2017 to remove the tumour, which involved taking away half of her lung and some lymph nodes but she did not require chemotherapy and is now cancer free.

Some 12, 210 patients from Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Tayside at high risk of developing lung cancer were recruited for the trial, led by researchers at St Andrew's University, which doctors say could now possible be used to help detect other hard to treat cancers at an earlier stage including ovarian cancer and is of "global significance."

Glasgow Times:

It uses Oncimmune patented technology to detect the presence of auto-antibodies generated by the body’s immune system as a natural defence against cancer cells.

Data indicates the test used in the study could detect cancer four years or more before current standard processes by acting as a 'warning flag' which can be followed up with CT scans.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer in Scotland – a quarter of all deaths (4069) from cancer are attributed to it.

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Among those people who received the EarlyCDT Lung test and went on to develop lung cancer within the next two years, 41.07% were diagnosed at stage 1 or 2, compared with 26.7% among the control group. 

Rebecca, 69, who is married to Benjamin, 68, said: “I went along to Glasgow Royal Infirmary and they took the test and it came back positive that I had lung cancer.

"I had smoked for 50 years - everyone smoked at that time."

“I had no symptoms whatsoever. It was only 20 months later than a CT scan showed I had cancer. Even then, when I went to see the consulant at the Golden Jubilee I took a breathing test and he said my breathing was fine.

“I’m now cancer free and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. If I hadn’t had that blood test I would never have known.

“I never told my family initially because I didn’t want to worry them.

“I only told my husband that the blood test had come back positive, until that last scan.

“It was very weird (knowing I had lung cancer before it showed in the scans) but I’m so grateful I went for the blood test.

“My grandchildren are eight and six and when it happened you think, will be there to see them grow up?

“I hope they can roll this out across the NHS because I think it will save many lives. I just want to thank the team because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here."

Glasgow Times:

The study was led by Professor Frank Sullivan, Professor of Primary Care Medicine at the University of St Andrews.

He said: “These landmark findings are likely to have globally significant implications for the early detection of lung cancer by showing how a simple blood test, followed by CT scans, is able to increase the number of patients diagnosed at an earlier stage of the disease, when surgery is still possible and prospects for survival much higher.”