The NHS has issued an urgent message to both current and ex-smokers in England as part of a potentially life-saving community initiative.
Those who are most at risk from lung cancer have been invited for a so-called 'Lung MOT' in the health service's mobile trucks, which offer an on-the-spot chest scan.
In a release issued today (19 April), NHS cancer chiefs urged those most at risk to 'come forward as soon as they are invited' for the health check, noting 600 people have been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier thanks to the NHS mobile trucks.
The trucks will be visiting different areas across the country as part of 'the biggest programme to improve early lung cancer diagnosis in health service history', which is part of the NHS Targeted Lung Health Check Programme.
So far the 23 existing truck sites have issued up to 25,000 invitations every month, and a further 20 sites are due to go live shortly. The NHS explains the new additions will offer the capacity to 'invite 750,000 more people at increased risk for a check, in efforts to catch thousands more cancers at an earlier stage'.
Current and ex-smokers aged between 55 and 74 are also invited to speak to a healthcare professional and, if they have a higher chance of developing lung cancer, be offered a scan of their lungs.
More than three quarters (77 percent) of cancers caught so far by the trucks were caught at either stage one or two, giving patients a better chance of beating the illness as those diagnosed earlier are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years. In comparison, less than a third of cancers were caught at either stage one or two in 2018.
Dame Cally Palmer, NHS cancer director, stressed the check can save lives, adding: "By going out into communities we find more people who may not have otherwise realised they have lung cancer – with hundreds already diagnosed and hundreds of thousands due to be invited.
Around 600 people with lung cancer have been diagnosed earlier because of NHS mobile lung trucks.— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) April 19, 2022
Thank you to the NHS teams who have been visiting different areas of the country to make it even easier for people to get a lung health check. ➡️ https://t.co/xdOGarLwQ3 pic.twitter.com/Y8FuDd3Sw7
“The trucks are conveniently located to make them easy to access and it is vital that as soon as you are invited, you take up the offer and come forward for these potentially life-saving checks," Palmer continued.
New figures show only a third (35 percent) of patients go to their lung health check when invited by the NHS, but the NHS hopes to increase checks with the trucks located in supermarket carparks, sports centres and shopping centres.
As well as scanning for cancer, the trucks have also identified thousands of people with undiagnosed conditions such as respiratory and cardiovascular disease, enabling them to access the treatment they need earlier.
A long-term NHS plan aims to invite as many as 1.5 million people for a lung health check across the country by 2024/25.