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Liverpool leads way in early lung cancer detection

Date: 13 January 2020 08:32

Liverpool is leading the way in finding lung cancer early thanks to a revolutionary screening programme.

The Liverpool Healthy Lung Programme, which was set up in 2016 by the Liverpool Commissioning Group, has now seen 100 local residents with diagnosed with the disease.

The programme invites residents aged 58-75 with a history of smoking for a health check with their GP. Those with a high risk are then offered a CT scan.

One local resident who used the scheme, 64-year-old Glenys from West Derby, is now urging others to go.

She said: "I am so incredibly grateful to the Liverpool Healthy Lung Programme. It’s just marvellous.

“I received my letter and booked an appointment straightaway. At the initial appointment, I was asked if I would go for a CT scan and, even though I was a little nervous, I said yes and thank goodness I did.

“I had a nodule on my right lung which turned out to be lung cancer. At the time, I was terrified. I didn’t think there was a cure for lung cancer, so I believed I was going to die. But treatments have come a long way, and, because of this programme, it was found early and I could have surgery.

“I went in on the Tuesday and was home by Friday. I was a little sore, as you’d expect, and a bit tired but apart from that I’ve recovered really well and don’t even notice that a part of my lung is missing!”

Over 13,000 people have gone for the check-up, with nearly 5,000 being scanned.

Dr Martin Ledson, Chest Consultant at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, said: “We are extremely proud to reach this milestone and potentially save the lives of 100 Liverpool residents. Without this programme, these people may have been diagnosed at a much later stage and had a very different experience.

“Lung cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose early and, as a result, long term survival lags significantly behind that of other forms of cancer.

“The Liverpool Healthy Lung Programme has found a way to change this and could be the starting point in improving lung cancer survival rates, both locally and nationally.

"Our success has played a crucial part in NHS England’s decision to roll out similar programmes across the country.”

Only 40% of those invited for a health check take up the offer.

Over 500 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in Liverpool each year, which is nearly double the national average. Of these, 70% of lung cancer diagnoses are made late on at stages 3 or 4.

The programme has now teamed up with charity Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation to try and improve this.

Liverpool CCG and the charity are set to raise awareness for the disease with a giant inflatable lung at Hunts Cross ASDA, on Friday, January 24.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of the charity, said: "Many people have a fatalistic perception of lung cancer. They believe it can’t be cured and therefore if they do have it, they’d rather not know because they think nothing can be done.

“But this isn’t the case, as the Liverpool Healthy Lung Programme so wonderfully demonstrates. It proves if lung cancer is caught early, then curative treatment is possible.

“We are so lucky, as residents of Liverpool, to have this opportunity and we want to do everything we can to encourage as many people as possible to take up the invitation. Not only could it save your life, it could also save others; if these lung health programmes are successful, it could help implement a national lung cancer screening programme which would revolutionise long term survival.”