The projects will not just identify more cancers quickly but pick up a range of other health conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The scheme means people aged 55-74 who have been identified as being at increased risk of lung cancer will be invited for a lung health check and be offered a chest scan if appropriate – this scan could take place in a mobile unit or in a hospital setting.
The targeted screening will help improve survival rates by going first to the some of the areas with the highest death rates from lung cancer.
A recent study showed CT screening reduced lung cancer mortality by 26% in men and between 39% and 61% in women*.
The roll out has the potential to reach around 600,000 people over four years, detecting approximately 3,400 cancers and saving hundreds of lives across the country.
The NHS Long Term Plan set out an ambition that 55,000 more people will survive their cancer – to achieve this the plan also included an ambition to increase the number of cancers diagnosed at stages one and two from half to three-quarters of cancer patients.
Cally Palmer, national cancer director at NHS England, said:
“Catching more cancers early is a cornerstone of the NHS Long Term Plan to save a further 55,000 lives a year and targeted lung health checks is one of the first projects to roll out following publication.
“These new projects will save lives – early diagnosis for cancer is crucial as it is easier to treat, not only saving lives, but it will also mean thousands of patients will avoid life changing treatments.”
Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said:
“We welcome today’s announcement confirming the roll out of 10 lung health check projects across England. Given our own first-hand knowledge of these programmes, coupled with the staggering results from the NELSON trial which saw a 26% reduction in mortality when high-risk patients had a CT scan, this is a big step forward in improving the early detection of lung cancer."
The new projects will last initially for four years and NHS England will then evaluate the results to use as a basis for further roll out to other areas.
In Liverpool, during the first two years of the programme which has been developed in partnership by Liverpool CCG, primary care and local hospital Trusts, we have found and treated more than 40 new cases of lung cancer. Over 75% of them were at an early stage of the disease, when typically 70% of lung cancer cases are not diagnosed until a late stage in Liverpool, when treatment is more difficult.
You can find out more about Liverpool's healthy lung programme here.
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