Using changes in body weight and trends of routine lab tests to identify potential signals of lung cancer prior to diagnosis 

Start Date Jan 2022

Code W5-I

Status Ongoing

Senior Lead
Dr Brian Nicholson, Dr Jason Oke

Project summary

Most patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer present in primary care with symptoms, often many months before their diagnosis. These early symptoms are often non-specific, meaning that it is difficult for patients and their clinician to differentiate possible lung cancer, from other much more common conditions. We want to find out if loss of weight is a useful symptom that could be used as an early sign of possible lung cancer.  

We will use data that has already been collected on a set of nearly 700 people with lung cancer, and 7000 matching controls (ie patients without lung cancer). All patients were identified from UW Medicine, which is a large healthcare system in Washington state, USA. Our analyses will examine whether weight loss (which is measured routinely when patients see a primary care clinician in the USA), is associated with lung cancer. We will also look at whether the patient’s report of weight loss that the clinician records in their consultation notes, is also associated with lung cancer. 

This study will be one of the largest ever conducted. If our results find that weight loss (either measured or as a symptom) is associated with lung cancer, it might support more routine use of weight checks in primary care as one way to ‘flag’ patients who are at higher risk of lung cancer and would benefit from prompt investigation.

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