Past and current smokers who are registered with specific GP practices across Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon, and Gloucestershire are now being invited to NHS lung health checks to improve lung health, detect and treat lung cancers earlier, and save lives.
The SWAG Cancer Alliance, which covers Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon, and Gloucestershire, was selected as a site for NHS England’s Targeted Lung Health Check Programme last year and has now launched its service with the first face-to-face appointments and low-dose CT scans taking place aboard their mobile unit at Bath Community Academy, Rush Hill, Bath.
The mobile unit will be carrying out the lung MOTs at convenient community locations such as supermarkets and school car parks in Bristol, Bath, Bridgewater and central Gloucester.
The scans are aiming to pick up small lung tumours before they start to cause symptoms as lung cancers detected at an early stage are far more treatable and carry a much better life expectancy. Most tumours diagnosed within the Targeted Lung Health Checks will be removed or treated. SWAG Cancer Alliance’s Targeted Lung Health Check Programme anticipates that more than 290 cancers will be found and treated as part of the initiative, along with many other more general lung conditions.
Dr Michael Marsh, Medical Director, NHS England South West, said. “In the South West region, we’re excited to be included in the national Phase 3 expansion of the Targeted Lung Health Check Programme which will continue to save lives.”
Part of the NHS’ Long-Term Plan, the programme is one of a number of initiatives introduced to help the NHS achieve its goal of diagnosing three in four cancers (75%) at an early stage by 2028. Since the start of the Lung Health Check programme in 2019, 87% of lung cancers found have been at stage 1 or stage 2.
The initiative means that a targeted 27,000* individuals living across Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon, and Gloucestershire who are aged 55 to 74 and smoke, or have smoked in the past, will be invited to a lung health check. Lung Health checks can be thought of as MOTs for your lungs, to understand how well they are functioning. Those invited will have an initial phone assessment to understand their risk of developing lung cancer. Based on this assessment, some people will be offered a face-to-face appointment and low dose CT scan of the lungs, whilst others will receive personalised health advice and support around improving their lung health. All current smokers will have a discussion with a smoking cessation professional and be offered a referral to local services for onward support.