Lung cancer health checks are being rolled out in Southampton in a drive to save lives by catching the condition early.
Southampton is the only area in the south of England chosen for this new scheme as part of the Wessex Cancer Alliance and is only one of ten in England.
Around £70 million will fund 10 Cancer Alliance projects nationwide to check those most at risk, inviting them for an MOT for their lungs and an on the spot chest scan that can include mobile clinics.
The targeted screening will help improve survival rates by going first to 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 in England 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 (early stages of cancer) from half to three-quarters of cancer patients.
Dr Sarah Young, local GP and a board member of NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are really excited to be one the first national sites to roll-out the lung health check. This is a real opportunity to improve the lung health of our population, which will identify serious illness at an earlier stage than at present.
“We look forward to working with our local partners to deliver a targeted scheme which could benefit many thousands of patients.”
Wessex Cancer Alliance Clinical lead, Mr Matt Hayes said: “Early detection is the best chance of surviving any cancer. Lung cancer is no exception - just 5% of people live 10 years after diagnosis if it is detected at a very late stage in the disease. These lung health checks will help us identify those most at risk of developing lung cancer at a stage where we can offer patients their best chance of life-saving treatment, and will mean a better chance of longer survival for a cancer which remains one of our biggest challenges.”
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.”
The projects will last initially for four years and NHS England will then evaluate the results to use as a basis for further roll out. Areas to receive funding will be:
- Wessex Cancer Alliance – Southampton City CCG
- North East and Cumbria Cancer Alliance – Newcastle Gateshead CCG
- Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance – Tameside and Glossop CCG
- Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance – Knowsley CCG and Halton CCG
- Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance – Blackburn with Darwen CCG and Blackpool CCG
- West Yorkshire Cancer Alliance – North Kirklees CCG
- South Yorkshire Cancer Alliance – Doncaster CCG
- Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance – Hull CCG
- East of England Cancer Alliance – Thurrock CCG and Luton CCG
- East Midlands Cancer Alliance – Corby CCG and Mansfield and Ashfield CCG
Most, but not all schemes, will use mobile scanning units, this will be dependent on local need.
*Source: NELSON lung cancer trial.
Notes to Editors
- Cancer Alliances bring together the key organisations to transform the diagnosis, treatment and care for cancer patients in their local area. Wessex Cancer Alliance is one of 19 Alliances across England.
- Wessex Cancer Alliance was established in 2015 and covers Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Dorset. Its membership comprises patients and the public, clinicians, providers and commissioners of health services, local authorities, public health, clinical research, health education services and cancer charities.