Lung health checks launched in drive to save more lives

6th December 2022

Past and current smokers in Great Yarmouth are being invited to a NHS lung health check in a drive to improve earlier diagnosis of lung cancer and save more lives.

With one of the highest mortality rates for lung cancer in England, Great Yarmouth is one of 43 places across the country to launch the Targeted Lung Health Check programme.

The initiative means around 13,750 past and current smokers aged 55 to 74 years of age in Great Yarmouth will be invited to a lung health check by their GP. This will identify lung cancer earlier than it would have been otherwise.

To date the community initiative, part of the NHS Targeted Lung Health Check Programme, has seen more than three quarters (77%) of cancers caught at either stage one or two, giving patients a much better chance of beating the illness. This compares to less than a third of cancers caught at either stage one or two in 2018.

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.

The lung health check takes place in two stages. The first is an initial assessment with a specially trained healthcare professional. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they are offered a low dose CT scan of their lungs for further investigation. The scanner is housed in a mobile unit based at the James Paget University Hospital.

Lung cancer can often be caught too late as there are rarely symptoms at the earlier stages. This programme is designed to check those most at risk of developing lung cancer in order to spot signs earlier, at the stage when it’s much more treatable and ultimately saving more lives.

The Targeted Lung Health Check programme estimates it will diagnose around 9,000 cancers earlier than would otherwise have been diagnosed within the 43 places running the checks. This offers the opportunity for earlier interventions, including curative surgery, which will save people’s lives. Stop smoking advice will also be offered to support current smokers.

Dr Ian Hume, Cancer Clinical Advisor for NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: “We’re pleased to be rolling out this national programme to the Great Yarmouth area, which unfortunately has the highest incidence of cancer in Norfolk and Waveney.

“You may have quit smoking a long time ago and are feeling very well in yourself, however you might still be at increased risk and we want to see you to give you that peace of mind.”

Mr Roshan Lal, Clinical Director of Programme at James Paget Hospital, said: “Our Radiology and Respiratory department are on hand to enable people in Great Yarmouth to access dedicated CT scans following a health check. Working in partnership, we can identify and treat lung cancer at an earlier stage, and help people access the care and support they need.”

Patients who are eligible to take part will be contacted directly by the NHS.