Free NHS lung health checks for current and former smokers in Lancashire have saved over 100 lives since they launched last year.
The first phase of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Targeted Lung Health Check (TLHC) programme has so far invited 48,000 eligible people who are current or former smokers aged between 55 and 74 to attend the ‘MOT for the lungs.’
The vital check has diagnosed 128 cases of lung cancer with more than two-thirds of cancers found at stage one and stage two when treatment is much more effective. This has also meant that 67 patients whose cancer was diagnosed at stage one or two, have been offered life-saving surgery at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Neil Smith, GP clinical lead for cancer in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “Targeted Lung Health Checks are designed to help the NHS spot lung cancer and other issues early when the options for treatment are greater. That is exactly what they’ve done here in Lancashire – ensuring people receive life-saving treatment for conditions which may otherwise have gone undiagnosed.”
The checks take place in two stages: a 15-minute telephone consultation with a nurse followed by a low-dose CT scan for those identified as being at risk of lung cancer. In Lancashire to date, 18,000 people have accepted the invitation to take part in the telephone assessment with 10,000 going on to have the CT scan.
Dr Neil Smith said: “In Lancashire, we have one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the country and there is more work to do, but I would urge anyone who receives an invitation to say yes. Early diagnosis saves lives and lung health checks are making a difference.
“A huge 69 per cent of the lung cancers found by the Targeted Lung Health Check were diagnosed early when our options for treatment are greater and the patient has a much better chance of survival. The national TLHC programme has diagnosed over 1,200 lung cancers with Lancashire and South Cumbria contributing approximately 10 per cent to those results. The TLHCs have been a remarkable success in our region, and the vast majority of people who agree to take part leave with a clean bill of health and valuable peace of mind. But for those who do require further treatment, we have a better chance if we find it early, often when there are no symptoms.”
TLHCs went live across Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen in 2021, before being introduced to other parts of East Lancashire in May 2022. Eligible residents in Burnley are now being invited to take part and the programme is due to be rolled out further across East Lancashire over the next two years. All initial lung health checks and the first round of scanning have been completed in Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Rossendale. Participants from Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen who accepted the invite and went on to have a CT scan, will where applicable, need to return for a repeat CT scan, arranged by the clinical team.
More information on the Targeted Lung Health Check programme is available at: lungcheckslsc.co.uk