A ground-breaking project in Liverpool is finding more cases of lung cancer at an early stage and before symptoms appear, according to a new independent study by Queen Mary University London and University of Liverpool.
More than 40 people have been diagnosed with lung cancer and treated through the Liverpool’s Healthy Lung ‘MOT’ clinics.
The Health Lung programme invites people aged between 58 and 75 years who have smoked and live in areas with the highest rate of lung disease to attend a routine lung health check at their local GP surgery.
To date, the programme has successfully diagnosed and treated 43 cases of lung cancer since launching in 2016, with 1-2 new cases found every month.
However, more than half of those eligible for the health check (55%) have not yet attended.
Ed Gaynor, Cancer Lead GP for NHS Liverpool CCG and part of the Healthy Lung Programme team is encouraged by the results but wants all those eligible to attend when invited:
“The findings in this study are great news for Liverpool, demonstrating how we are finding and treating more cases of lung cancer and COPD than ever before. But we also know that many more people across the city could be putting their health at risk unnecessarily by not attending a lung health clinic when they are invited.
“If you have received a letter from your GP inviting you to attend, either recently or at any time over the past year, you should book an appointment as soon as possible. Please don’t ignore it or put it off – even if you think you are fine and don’t have any symptoms.”
“The clinics are a routine check-up and nothing to feel worried about, and you may find that it puts your mind at ease to get checked out. And even if they do find any problems with your lungs during the appointment, finding out early will make treatment much more effective.”
Jane Gavin, an ex-smoker from South Liverpool, understands why people are reluctant to attend but urges them to face their fear and make the appointment:
“I felt quite worried when I first received my letter inviting me to have a lung health check because I had been a smoker in the past. But the nurse I saw was very reassuring and not judgemental at all.
“We had a chat about my general health and then she did a breathing test with me – the results of which were fine.
It felt like a huge weight lifted off me. I was so relieved, and I felt encouraged that the lifestyle changes I’ve made over the years really have helped to improve my health.Jane Gavin attended the Liverpool lung health check
Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, comments:
“These latest figures are incredibly encouraging.
We know that curative treatment is possible for people with early stage lung cancer. The difficulty is finding it at that early stage. Symptoms often don’t present until the cancer is advanced so programmes like Liverpool’s Healthy Lung Project is absolutely essential in saving people’s lives.
“This is why we are campaigning for the rollout of a national programme, mirroring the likes of this project and others around the country including our own lung health MOT check in Nottingham. It too has found patients early and saved lives.”