Past and current smokers in several primary care networks will be invited to an NHS lung health check next year in a drive to improve lung health, detect and treat lung cancers earlier, and save lives.
The SWAG Cancer Alliance, which covers Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire, has been selected as a site for NHS England and Improvement’s Targeted Lung Health Check programme and is aiming to start inviting participants from April 2022.
Part of the NHS’ Long Term Plan, the programme is one of a number of initiatives introduces to help the NHS achieve their goal of diagnosing three in four cancers (75%) at an early stage by 2028. Since the start of the Lung Health Check programme in 2019, 87% of lung cancers found have been at stage 1 or stage 2.
The initiative means that a targeted 27,000* individuals living across Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire who are aged 55 to 74 and smoke, or have smoked in the past, will be invited to a lung health check. Those invited will have an initial phone assessment with a specially trained health care professional. Based on this assessment, some people will be offered a low dose CT scan of the lungs, whilst others will receive personalised health advice and support around improving their lung health.
People who are offered a scan will be able to have their CT in a designated mobile scanning unit that will move between convenient community locations around the region, such as supermarket car parks.
The scans are aiming to pick up small lung tumours that people may be unaware of having. Small, early-stage lung cancers are more treatable and carry a much better life expectancy than cancers that are only detected when they start to cause symptoms. Most tumours diagnosed within the Targeted Lung Health Checks will be removed or treated curatively, which will save lives. SWAG Cancer Alliance’s Targeted Lung Health Check Programme anticipates that more than 290 cancers will be found and treated as part of the initiative.
Dr Michael Marsh, Medical Director, NHS England and Improvement South West, said. “In the South West region, we’re excited to be included in the national Phase 3 expansion of the Targeted Lung Health Check Programme.”
This initiative is part of a wider programme that has been expanded into a further 20 locations – including SWAG. 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/.
*Of note: This figure represents 55 to 74 year-old ever-smokers.