Please follow & like us

Life-saving cancer screening trucks rolling into south Sefton

Still from cancer check videoA ground-breaking check-up, which has already saved hundreds of lives across England, is being rolled out into south Sefton this month.

Part of NHS England’s latest rollout of its Targeted Lung Health Check programme, people aged 55-74 in south Sefton with a history of smoking and registered with a local GP surgery are starting to receive their invitation to have a free lung health check.

Earlier detection

Targeting those most at risk of lung cancer, the checks have been proved to significantly improve the earlier detection of the disease.

Thousands of people across the country have already taken up the opportunity to assess their lung health. Around 1,200 people have been diagnosed with cancer through the programme. Three quarters of these cancers were detected at an early stage; far earlier than would have been likely without these checks. People diagnosed with lung cancer at the earliest stage are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years than those whose cancer is caught late.

Within the Merseyside and Cheshire region, targeted lung health checks have identified 111 lung cancers so far, of which, 68.5% were at stage 1. This has enabled 74 people diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer to receive curative treatment.

You can find out more about the programme here.

Diagnosed

Gordon Darnell was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer in a similar programme in Liverpool. He had surgery in January. Eight weeks later, he went on holiday to Spain. He said: “My consultant said when I went for my original lung scan, I saved my own life.

“I was never ill – not before my diagnosis, not during treatment and not now, and that’s because they picked it up so early. I almost feel like a fraud speaking to people who’ve got cancer or who’ve had cancer because I didn’t experience anything like they did, and that’s all down to going for that lung check.

“We’re talking an hour out of your day. If you go and there’s nothing wrong, you haven’t lost anything, but if there is something wrong, you’ve got to deal with it as quickly as possible. I truly believe it has saved my life.”

Above average

Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer, claiming the lives of more people than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined. It is a particular issue in south Sefton, with local incidence above that of the national average.

Now, these simple lung checks provide a way to significantly change the situation. They could revolutionise long-term lung cancer survival rates in the area by detecting the disease at the earliest opportunity, even before symptoms appear. However, in order for the checks to work, people need to take up the opportunity and make an appointment – even if they feel well.

Opportunity

Dr Chris Warburton, medical director at Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance said, “We are delighted that south Sefton and also St Helens are now part of NHS England’s Targeted Lung Health Check programme.

‘’We have been seeing the impact of these checks for several years now through programmes in Liverpool, Halton and Knowsley. It is wonderful that residents across south Sefton and St Helens will now have the same opportunity.

“Lung cancer can be difficult to detect early, which is why so many people are currently diagnosed when the disease has become incurable. However, as we are seeing from the existing programmes, these checks are helping us to diagnose many more people earlier, when it is far easier to treat.

“This is why we want everyone who is invited to take up the opportunity and make an appointment. The chances are you will not have any symptoms when you receive your invitation, but this should not stop you making an appointment. You should have the check whether you feel fine or not.

“The main aim of these checks is to find cancer at the earliest opportunity before there may even be any symptoms, so, just as you would go for a breast screening or send off your bowel screening kit, we now want you to have your lungs checked. For the majority of those who attend, everything will be fine, while for those who do have something wrong, catching it early can make all the difference.”

Invitations

The first residents in south Sefton to receive their invitations will be eligible patients in Litherland, Seaforth and Bootle from 14 December, with the programme rolling out to other areas in south Sefton over the coming year.

Those invited will have an appointment with a lung health nurse, either over the phone or face-to-face. Those then considered to have a higher risk of lung cancer will be offered a low dose CT scan in a mobile truck located within their community. This scan is far more accurate at picking up cancer than a standard X-ray. 

The programme also offers help and advice on how best to quit smoking for those who are ready to make the change.

You can find out more about the programme here.