Start improving lung cancer survival rates - #LetsRoll

On Tuesday 21 November 2017, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England (NHSE) announced plans to roll out lung health checks to find lung cancer early. We look forward to hearing where and when this will happen.

Mobile CT scanners could help diagnose lung cancer earlier
Mobile CT scanners could help diagnose lung cancer earlier

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, the UK's only charity solely dedicated to lung cancer, welcomes the announcement, recognising lung health checks as an 'excellent first step' in improving lung cancer survival rates.

Lung cancer is the UK's biggest cancer killer. 36,000 people die from the disease every year - more than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined[1]. The high mortality rate is largely due to late diagnosis; almost three quarters of people with the disease are diagnosed at a late stage when curative treatment is not possible[2]. As a result, the average prognosis for a person with lung cancer is just 200 days[3].

"I know some people who believe people with lung cancer don't deserve treatments like other cancer patients."
Paula Chadwick | Chief Executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

Detecting lung cancer earlier is not easy; people can be asymptomatic for many years with symptoms only presenting when the cancer is at an advanced stage.

However, the results of several pilot projects, including Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation's own programme in Nottingham, suggest lung health checks could offer a way to identify people at an early stage. See the results of our Nottingham project >

The charity is now poised to launch its campaign #LetsRoll to encourage the swift and UK-wide implementation of lung health checks, in places where projects are not currently planned or underway.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, comments:

"As the only UK lung cancer charity, we welcome the original announcement by Simon Stevens and subsequent decision by NHSE to implement lung health checks.

"The early detection of lung cancer is imperative if we are to see significant changes in lung cancer survival rates which remain heartbreakingly low. Research tells us that if a person is diagnosed with very early stage lung cancer, they have up to a 73% chance of surviving for five years or more. The current five-year survival rate, though, is just 10%[4].

"We also acknowledge, and are in full support of, the projects in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, London, Nottingham and elsewhere, that are already underway, which undoubtedly helped to pave the way for the NHSE decision to be made.

"Lung health checks therefore are an excellent first step in achieving this and give us and people affected by lung cancer real hope for change."

When asked if lung health checks mean lung cancer screening 'is off the table', Paula replied:

"Our ultimate aim is for there to be a national lung cancer screening programme. However, we understand that there will be no decision on this in the near future.

"People, though, do not have time to wait for this decision so our #LetsRoll campaign is calling for lung health checks to be rolled out across the whole of the UK - including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - as soon as possible."

As part of the campaign, the charity has launched an online petition, giving people the opportunity to show their support for such a programme.

"Having a petition as part of our #LetsRoll campaign allows us to show those affected by lung cancer that they are not alone; that there are thousands and thousands of people out there as horrified by the statistics around lung cancer as we are and who agree it is about time something is done about it."

Sign our petition and show your support for a national lung health check. #LetsRoll

[1] Cancer Mortality Rates | Cancer Research UK (CRUK) | [2] Lung Cancer Incidence Rate at stage of diagnosis | CRUK | [3] Dr Ian Woolhouse | University of Leicester | [4] UK Lung Cancer Screening Trial (UKLS) | University of Liverpool

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