19th April 2022
Mobile trucks target areas with highest death rates in effort to reach those living with undiagnosed disease
Andrew Gregory, Health editor
Mon 18 Apr 2022 19.01 EDT
NHS leaders are urging people to attend vital lung cancer check-ups as figures reveal almost two-thirds of those invited are not coming forward.
The NHS targeted lung health check service offered in some parts of England aims to help diagnose cancer at an earlier stage when treatment may be more successful. Current and former smokers aged between 55 and 74 are invited to speak to a healthcare professional and, if they have a higher chance of developing lung cancer, are offered a scan of their lungs.
Doctors are keen to reach those who may not have sought help for symptoms during the pandemic and could be living with undiagnosed lung cancer. People diagnosed at the earliest stage are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years than those whose cancer is caught late, according to the NHS.
The NHS has already diagnosed 600 people with the disease in travelling trucks, which visit convenient community sites across the UK, such as supermarkets and sports centres, aiming to make it easier for people to access check-ups. But figures show only a third (35%) of patients go to their lung health check when invited by the NHS.
“These lung checks can save lives,” said Dame Cally Palmer, the NHS cancer director. “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.
“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.”
The mobile trucks are targeting areas with some of the highest lung cancer death rates. NHS teams have also identified thousands of people with other undiagnosed conditions via the trucks, including respiratory and cardiovascular disease, enabling them to access the treatment they need earlier.
Prof Peter Johnson, the NHS clinical director for cancer, said: “Lives are saved when cancers are caught early and when more people are referred for tests, which is why the NHS has put so much effort into early diagnosis in recent years.
“We know that some people had concerns seeking help during the pandemic but if you do have a worrying symptom or have been coughing for three weeks or more, please do contact your GP and get checked out.”