NHS invites people in Luton and Central Bedfordshire for life-saving lung cancer checks

NHS invites people in Luton and Central Bedfordshire for life-saving lung cancer checks image

Home » NHS invites people in Luton and Central Bedfordshire for life-saving lung cancer checks

More than 39,000 people across Luton and Central Bedfordshire have been invited for a potentially life-saving free lung check, as part of the biggest programme to improve early lung cancer diagnosis in NHS history.

Current and former smokers aged between 55 and 74 in the local area are being invited to have a free lung health check with a lung specialist, initially over the phone.  If deemed high-risk they will be offered a low-dose CT scan in a state-of-the-art mobile unit at a convenient location close to where they live.

Bedfordshire has poor outcomes for lung cancer and some of the highest rates of smoking, with a significant percentage of the local population known to be either current or former smokers.

Almost 2,400 cancers have already been caught through the Targeted Lung Health Check programme nationally, with around three-quarters caught at the earliest stages of one and two, when survival chances are much higher.

Dr James Ramsay, a respiratory physician at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The NHS targeted lung check programme is part of a series of measures to catch cancer early, with almost 2,400 people diagnosed with cancer so far via this programme.

“Symptoms of lung cancer can include a long-standing cough and persistent breathlessness and former or current smokers are most at risk.

“We are urging everyone who is invited for a lung health check to attend, regardless of whether they think they are in good health or not.

“Catching cancer early makes it more treatable so, if something in your body doesn’t feel right, make sure you speak to your GP and if you receive your invitation for a targeted lung health check, I would urge you to attend.  It could save your life.”

The NHS is now preparing to roll the programme out across England, aiming to catch lung cancer as early as possible among former and current smokers aged 55 to 74.  The first phase of the rollout will focus on reaching 40% of the eligible population by March 2025 with the aim of 100% coverage by March 2030.

The news comes as a record 335,000 people have started treatment for cancer in the last year (July 2022-June 2023), up by over 20,000 on the same period before the pandemic (July 2018-June 2019).

Those diagnosed with lung cancer at stages one or two are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years or more than those whose cancer is caught at later stages.  72% of lung cancers are a result of smoking, causing around 35,000 deaths each year.

Cancer survival is at an all-time high in England and the latest data shows the NHS is diagnosing more patients with cancer at an earlier stage than ever before, when it is easier to treat – over 100,000 (104,012) patients were diagnosed with cancer at stages one or two when it is easier to treat between 2021 and 2022 – the highest proportion on record.

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