Past and current smokers in six primary care networks will be invited to an NHS lung health check next year in a drive to improve earlier diagnosis of lung cancer and save more lives.
With one of the highest mortality rates for lung cancer in England, Cornwall is one of 43 places across the country to run the Targeted Lung Health Check programme.
The initiative means more than 50,000 past and current smokers aged 55 to 74 in Cornwall will be invited to a lung health check by their GP from April 2022.
Those invited will have an initial phone assessment with a specially trained health care professional. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they will be offered a low dose CT scan of the lungs for further investigation. The scanner is housed in a mobile unit, which will be located at convenient locations in Cornwall including Bodmin Community Hospital and may also be available at supermarket/sports centre carpark locations.
Lung cancer can often be caught too late as there are rarely symptoms at the earlier stages. The programme is designed to check those most at risk of developing lung cancer in order to spot signs earlier, at the stage when it’s much more treatable, ultimately saving lives.
The Targeted Lung Health Check programme estimates it will diagnose around 9,000 cancers earlier with this new initiative taking place. In England, on average only 28% of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage. However, with this initiative, lung cancer early diagnosis rates can be as high as 80% and allows more opportunities for earlier interventions, such as curative surgery – both of which, ultimately saves lives. Stop smoking advice will also be offered to support current smokers.
Dr Michael Marsh, Medical Director, NHS England and Improvement South West, said: “In the South West we’re excited to be included in the national Phase 3 expansion of the Targeted Lung Health Checks Programme. Lives are saved when cancers are caught early, which is why the NHS has put so much effort into early diagnosis in recent years.”
This initiative is part of a wider programme that has been expanded into a further 20 locations – including Cornwall. Latest projections show as many as 1.5 million people will have been invited for a lung health check across 43 locations by 2024/25.
For more information on the Targeted Lung Health Check programme please visit https://www.england.nhs.uk/contact-us/privacy-notice/how-we-use-your-information/our-services/evaluation-of-the-targeted-lung-health-check-programme/.