Mobile testing trucks have been travelling up and down the country to improve early lung cancer diagnosis, with 600 people receiving potentially life-saving early diagnoses so far. Evidence so far has shown a significant rise in early lung cancer diagnosis across the population.
The community scheme, which forms part of the NHS Targeted Lung Health Check Programme, has diagnosed patients at the earliest stages – stage 1 and 2 – 77% of the time. In 2018, the comparable figure was far lower, with less than a third of lung cancers diagnosed at stage 1 or 2.
NHS teams are identifying those most at risk of developing lung cancer, particularly current and ex-smokers, and are offering them either a full lung MOT or spot chest scans.
This is a huge boost to the NHS’s efforts to tackle lung cancer effectively, as early diagnosis is extremely important to survival rates in lung cancer patients. Research has shown that patients diagnosed with lung cancer early are twenty times more likely to survive for five years than those diagnosed at a late stage.
Yet attendance for lung cancer screenings remains low. Only 35% of those called for an appointment attend their screening, therefore, NHS health chiefs are this week urging people ensure they attend their potentially life-saving session.
Nevertheless, lung-testing capacity will continue to increase as 20 more lung truck sites will shortly be established, almost double the existing number. They aim to test a further 750,000 people in order to continue to deliver crucial early lung cancer diagnoses.
Dame Cally Palmer, NHS cancer director, said: “The rollout of our Targeted Lung Health Check Programme is a huge step towards reaching our NHS Long Term Plan ambitions of catching thousands more cancers at an earlier stage when they are easier to treat
“Not only do the lung trucks scan for cancer, but they’ve also identified thousands of people with other undiagnosed conditions including respiratory and cardiovascular disease, enabling them to access the treatment they need earlier, and helping to prevent potential hospitalisations”.