“If you get the opportunity, go for the scan. It could save your life.” – lung cancer survivor Susan urges others to take up the Targeted Lung Health Check invite

Date posted: 20th November 2023 “If you get the opportunity, go for the scan. It could save your life.” – lung cancer survivor Susan urges others to take up the Targeted Lung Health Check invite thumbnail image

When Susan Williams received a phone call from the NHS, inviting her to come for a Targeted Lung Health Check, she never thought that just weeks later she’d be diagnosed with lung cancer.

Now the 66-year-old from Blackpool is urging other eligible people to take up the offer, when the NHS invites them, this Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Launched in 2019, the NHS Targeted Lung Health Check programme has brought mobile cancer catching technology into the heart of communities, making it easier for those most at risk of cancer to get checked out.

Invitations are sent to those who are registered with a GP in the areas where there is a mobile lung truck, are older than 55 but younger than 75 and have ever smoked. The programme will be rolled out nationally over the coming years with the aim of reaching 40% of the eligible population by March 2025 and 100% coverage by March 2030.

More than 32,000 residents in the North West have now come forward for their free lung check, and to date more than 850 people in the region have been diagnosed with lung cancer, at early stages, thanks to the programme.

Susan, who moved to Blackpool three years ago, received a phone call from the NHS inviting her to attend the lung health check. She said: “I went for the scan, and it was really convenient because it was in Blackpool, and took less than an hour.

“All the time I was thinking ‘they’re not going to find anything’, because I had no symptoms at all.”

However, Susan was soon told that the scan had detected an abnormality on her left lung, which was possibly cancer, and just a few weeks later she had surgery.

She said: “When I came to, in intensive care, the consultant came to see me to confirm it was cancer – stage one – and that they had successfully removed it. The treatment was absolutely fantastic, so quick and painless, it was like a whirlwind.”

Having caught the cancer at its earliest stage, treating Susan was less invasive than if the cancer was caught at a later stage.

Susan said of the NHS targeted lung health check: “If you get the opportunity to go to the targeted lung health check, go for it. It’s an hour out of your day and could save your life.”

People who are diagnosed with lung cancer at the earliest stages are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years than those whose cancer is caught later.

Dr Michael Gregory, Regional Medical Director for NHS England – North West said: “It’s great to hear the Susan’s lung cancer was caught early, even though she had no symptoms, and the NHS Targeted Lung Health Check programme is proving such a success in our region.

“It is incredibly important that we continue to work harder to make sure that all of our communities have access to the cancer care that they need, and do all we can to diagnose cancers at their earliest stages, when they are easier to treat.

“To date, more than a quarter of a million invitations have been sent people in the North West, so if you’ve had an invitation to book an appointment at your local lung truck, please don’t ignore it, it could save your life.”

Thanks to awareness campaigns and early diagnosis drives, the NHS has been seeing and treating record numbers of people for cancer, with over 2.8 million getting checked for cancer in 2022, and over 320,000 people received treatment for cancer in the same year – up on 2.35 million checks and 8,000 treatments in the same period before the pandemic.

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