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SUMMIT Study reaches new peaks

SUMMIT Study reaches new peaks

Bridget Barker had not been concerned about her lungs. But a lung health check, offered as part of a clinical research study, saved her life.

The 77-year-old, from Hackney, east London, discovered she had cancer during the check, given as part of the SUMMIT Study which, through GP practices, is recruiting 25,0000 people in north and east London who are at higher risk of lung cancer.

Bridget explains: “I was feeling absolutely fine and would never have gone to see my GP about anything to do with my lungs. But when I got the invitation for the lung health check, I called up for an appointment straight away.

“I thought it best just check everything was ok as I started smoking when I was 21, though I gave it up completely 15 years ago. Who knows how things would have turned out if it wasn’t for the lung health check.”

Bridget had the check at Mile End Hospital following an invitation from her GP, which was sent to her as part of the SUMMIT Study.

A problem revealed itself on the scan at Bridget’s first appointment.  A few days later she returned for a PET scan and her cancer was confirmed quickly afterwards. Bridget was immediately called for surgery and received an operation just three days later.

In August 2019, Bridget had successful robotic surgery to treat lung cancer. The malignant nodules on Bridget’s lung were removed using a state of the art Da Vinci robot at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Since surgery Bridget has not needed chemotherapy or radiotherapy but will continue to have regular check-ups.

SUMMIT is run by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and UCL (University College London), in collaboration with UCLH Biomedical Research Centre and GRAIL, Inc. a US healthcare company with a mission to detect cancer early, when it can be cured. The study opened in early 2019 and has already saved lives.

If a patient is eligible, they are invited to have a low dose CT scan and provide a blood sample which will aid development of a new blood test, designed to detect many types of cancer.

Lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer in the UK, with 35,349 deaths from 2015-2017. In the early stages of lung cancer people often have no symptoms and thus no reason to go to their GP. Treatment at stage 1 or 2 of the disease is much more likely to be successful and is a key reason why research on screening for lung cancer is being conducted.

Surgical procedures using robotic equipment mean that patients like Bridget recover more quickly from their surgery, usually spending only a few days in hospital.

As part of the SUMMIT Study, 379 GP practices in north and east London are sending invitations to registered patients aged 50-77, who fit the criteria for being at higher risk of lung cancer due to their smoking history.

Sam Janes, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at UCL/UCLH and Chief Investigator of the SUMMIT Study said: “We have now seen over 9,000 people for lung health checks and have been able to identify conditions, including cancer, which needed action. But we are looking for many more people to take up the offer when they receive the letter from their GP. Responding to the letter is voluntary but as Bridget’s story shows, there are important, potentially life-saving reasons to have the lung health check.”

You can find out more about SUMMIT Study online at:


To find out more about research taking place in your area by visiting the Be Part of Research website: