Over 100 local people now diagnosed with lung cancer through Targeted Lung Health Checks Programme 

Health / Mon 5th Feb 2024 at 09:43am

TODAY, on World Cancer Day (4 February), sees the local NHS mark a significant milestone. Thanks to life-saving lung health check programme, more than 100 local people have now had previously undiscovered lung cancer found and treated.  

The latest data shows that over 17,000 checks have been completed since the programme launched in Essex. In addition, nearly 10,000 CT scans and 561 referrals to into hospitals after those scans to follow up care linked to cardio-vascular disease, gallbladder, respiratory, breast, gastro, urology, liver and renal findings.  

Since 2020, people living in Southend and Thurrock aged between 55 and under 75 years of age, were invited to have a Free NHS Lung Health Check which identifies people at risk of developing lung cancer.  Those at higher risk are offered a scan, then referred for treatment if needed. 

One of the residents who received a Lung Health Check was Isla, 62 from Southend, she said; “I feel very lucky that I received the letter and I am so grateful that I’ve been given a second chance. I’m not sure at this stage what the future holds but I would like to urge anyone reading this if you have received a letter don’t delay get your lungs checked out today. The first thing I did was give up smoking and I am adamant that I will never smoke another cigarette again.” 

Southend has one of the highest rates of death from lung cancer in the UK and some of the highest rates of smoking with 42% of the local population labelled as smokers. The programme is one of the second wave of sites to be rolled out as part the NHS Long Term Plan. 

Whilst cancer survival is the highest its been, the local NHS is keen more lives by catching more cancers earlier and starting treatment faster.  

Dr Donald McGeachy, Cancer Alliance Lead for the programme said:

“Over 63% of the cancers caught have been caught early. I understand attending a lung health check can be a scary thing. However, if you do have lung cancer, it is better to find out as early as possible when curative treatment may be an option. I would urge everyone who is invited to please come along and receive your check. It will take place over the phone and if you are deemed to be high risk you will be offered a CT scan at a convenient location, close to where you live. 

“Across the health and care system we want to make sure 75% of all cancer cases diagnosed at stage 1 or 2 by 2028. This includes investing in programmes like the lung health checks initiative to improve screening and testing.”

Dr Krishna Ramkhelawon, Director of Public Health in Southend-on-Sea said: 

“Identifying lung cancer early saves lives, and the diagnosis of more than 100 people is a landmark step forward in our drive to find and treat more people living with this devastating disease at the earliest stage. We are committed to continuing to work together and with local communities to do all that we can to improve outcomes for local people – particularly in areas like Southend where we know some residents face shorter life expectancy from preventable causes of death. 

“We know that if we can catch lung cancer early then treatment is possible, it also means that we can allow people to continue to live a long, happy and healthy life.” 

Whilst the Lung Health Check programme has been a success so far, the local NHS is keen to do more to save lives from lung cancer and to improve the health and wellbeing of the local population. 

To find out more about lung health checks, and to find out if you are eligible, please follow the link here.  

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