A project involving lung cancer scanning trucks for the NHS which operate from supermarket car parks is being rolled out across the country in a drive to boost early detection of the disease.
NHS England announced today that around £70m over four years will fund 10 projects that check people who are most at risk, inviting them for an MOT for their lungs and an on-the-spot chest scan that includes mobile clinics.
This targeted screening will help improve survival rates by going to some of the areas with the highest death rates from lung cancer, said NHS England. The roll out had the potential to reach around 600,000 people over four years, detecting approximately 3,400 cancers and saving hundreds of lives.
Studies have shown that CT screening can significantly reduce lung cancer mortality.
The recently published NHS Long-Term Plan set out an ambition that 55,000 more people will survive their cancer and to achieve this, the plan included an ambition to increase the number of cancers diagnosed at stages one and two from half to three-quarters of cancer patients.
The NHS is initially extending the programme to 10 new areas across the country based on the pioneering schemes in Manchester and Liverpool.
The projects will identify more cancers quickly and detect a range of other health conditions including COPD, said NHS England.
The schemes mean people aged 55-74 who have been identified as being at increased risk of lung cancer will be invited for a lung health check and be offered a chest scan if appropriate. This scan could take place in a mobile unit or in a hospital setting.
Most but not all of the schemes will use mobile scanning units, dependent on local need.
One scheme currently piloting in Liverpool targets clinics in various areas of the city and, where needed, patients are referred to hospital for a scan.
Over two years, they have found and treated more than 40 new cases of lung cancer, with more than 75% at an early stage of the disease, when typically 70% of lung cancer cases are not diagnosed until a late stage in Liverpool, when treatment is more difficult.
London’s first mobile unit opened at the end of last year, and is currently moving between supermarket car parks. More than 7,000 Londoners are expected to be invited for a lung health check-up through the scheme.
The Manchester project scanned 2,541 patients and found 65 lung cancers affecting 61 patients. It also picked up a range of other heart and lung conditions.
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 new 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:
- 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
- Wessex Cancer Alliance – Southampton CCG