Scientists in Liverpool have pioneered a model which can predict the risk of any person developing lung cancer within a five-year period. About two-thirds of lung cancer cases in the UK could be pre-empted through a new screening programme by experts at the University of Liverpool.

The Liverpool Lung Project (LLP) is in collaboration with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation based in the city.

The model was developed through a study of 1,736 cases.

Scientists collected information on participants' socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, medical history, family history of cancer, tobacco consumption and lifetime occupation.

John Field, professor of cancer studies at the University of Liverpool and director of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer research programme, said: "The LLP risk model provides us with a more sophisticated way of identifying individuals within a five-year time frame.

"Current methods are limited to a patient's smoking history.

"The model can distinguish between high and low risk individuals regardless of age and smoking history, assessing those most likely to benefit from a future lung cancer screening programme."

The model identified the risk of a smoker developing lung cancer in a five-year-period can be similar to that of a non-smoker who has other aggravating lifestyle factors such as a prior diagnosis of pneumonia; family history in a relative under 60-year-old; a prior diagnosis of any cancer and exposure to asbestos.

The university's model has also involved Cancer Research UK and the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine.

Previous lung cancer risk models have focused only on age and smoking status and fail to account for other groups who are also at risk.

Professor Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UK's professor of cancer screening, said: "As methods for preventing lung cancer and screening for early signs of the disease are developed in the coming years, being able to identify those at high risk will be crucial."