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Lung Health Checks

Your lungs work hard for you every minute of your life. As you get older it's worth getting them checked out. 

If you’re aged between 55 and 74 and have ever smoked, you may be offered an NHS Targeted Lung Health Check (TLHC). It’s an ‘MOT for your lungs’ to see if they are in good working order and to diagnose conditions early.

There are often no signs or symptoms of lung cancer at an early stage. As a result, sadly, seven out of 10 cancer patients are diagnosed too late to be cured. Targeted lung health checks can help diagnose lung cancer early, at a stage where treatment can be more successful.

In Lancashire and South Cumbria, they are currently being offered in Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and in East Lancashire.

If you are worried about a symptom of lung cancer, please do not wait until you are invited for a Lung Health Check. Contact your GP as soon as possible.

Symptoms may include:

  • A persistent cough or change in your normal cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Being short of breath
  • Unexplained tiredness or weight loss
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • Appetite loss

If you have any questions about Targeted Lung Health Checks, please contact our team at

Why are we offering lung health checks?

There are often no signs or symptoms of lung cancer at an early stage. As a result, sadly seven out of 10 cancer patients are diagnosed too late to be cured. Targeted lung health checks can help diagnose lung cancer early, at a stage where treatment can be simpler and more successful.

What is a targeted lung health check?

A targeted lung health check is a two-stage process to help assess the health of your lungs.

It begins with a telephone call or meeting where a nurse will ask a series of questions to evaluate your chance of developing lung cancer.

If you are identified as someone who is at an increased risk of developing lung cancer you will be invited for a scan of your lungs.

Why have I been invited?

If you live in one of the areas where we are delivering the checks, are aged 55 to 74 and have ever smoked, you will be invited to a lung health check, providing your smoking status is correctly recorded on your GP record.

What happens at a targeted lung health check?

You will be invited to an initial assessment which usually takes place over the phone.

You will be contacted at the time of your appointment by a nurse who will ask a series of questions about your smoking history, lifestyle and current health and well-being.

The nurse will complete two risk assessments based on the answers given. If you meet a certain risk threshold on either of the risk assessments, you will be offered a low-dose CT scan.

The risks and benefits of the CT scan will be explained to you by the health professional.

Where are targeted lung health checks being offered?

They are initially being offered in areas of England with the highest lung cancer mortality rates and we are now expanding the checks across the country.

In Lancashire and South Cumbria, they are being offered in Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and in East Lancashire.

In 2023, the Government announced that TLHCs is now a national screening programme, which would roll out to cover the whole of the country over the next few years. You can read the announcement here.

Why does early diagnosis make a difference?

Data from the targeted lung health check programme so far shows that with these potentially life-saving checks, lung cancer early diagnosis rates can be as high as 80 per cent - compared to less than 30 per cent without this type of intervention – enabling doctors to treat cases sooner, when curative treatment is more possible, saving more lives.

I have received an invitation to another CT scan - why?

Two-year follow-up scans are offered to everyone who received a CT scan at their first Targeted Lung Health Check and who received the ‘all clear’.

We strongly encourage anyone who had an initial scan to attend their two-year follow-up when they are invited for an appointment so that we can spot any issues that might have developed.

Letters are being sent by post to people in Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool who received their first CT scan two years ago. Please do come to your appointment – it could be lifesaving.

Who can’t have a scan?

There are several reasons why you might not be offered a low-dose CT scan, for example, if:

  • you have had a chest CT scan within the previous 12 months,
  • you are unable to lie flat,
  • you are unable to get onto the CT scanning bed without support unless a friend, family member or carer can attend the scan and help you,
  • you weigh more than 200kg/31.5 stones,
  • you’re not physically fit, or
  • you are not able to consent to a CT scan and it is not in your best interests to have one.          

Can I bring someone to my appointment?

This will depend on your local service, please see their relevant contact details from your invitation and ask them directly.

Do I have to get undressed if I need a CT scan?

You may need to remove your coat, but you can leave your clothing and shoes on. If you’re someone who wears a bra, please wear one without an underwire and please attend your appointment wearing a plain top (no zips, metal buttons or sequins).

What happens after a lung health check?

You will be informed of the results of your scan by letter within four weeks.

The programme aims to deliver Lung Health Checks to populations with the highest risk of developing lung cancer to identify lung cancer at an earlier stage.

During a trial of the programme in Manchester, 65 per cent of lung cancers were diagnosed at stage 1 and 13 per cent at stage 4, compared to 18 per cent at stage 1 and 48 per cent at stage 4 before the trial.

The main health outcomes of the programme are to increase the:

  • Proportion of lung cancers diagnosed at an early stage

  • Proportion of lung cancers that are treated with curative interventions

  • Number of sustained quits in people who smoke

The lung health check programme is part of a national pilot programme and its outcomes will be evaluated to ascertain if the service as a whole is a success.

The lung health check service will improve health outcomes and quality of life by enabling more people to be identified at an earlier stage for serious respiratory disease, with a better chance of putting in place positive ways to substantially reduce the risk of respiratory disease morbidity, premature death or disability.

The lung health check service is not purely diagnostic but is part of a wider process that should ensure that people with respiratory problems gain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment and support, including if they are smokers, support to help them quit.

Programme protocols: NHS England » Targeted Screening for Lung Cancer with Low Radiation Dose Computed Tomography

Targeted lung health checks (TLHC) have been offered in several parts of Lancashire and South Cumbria as follows:

Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool – First rolled out in 2021 with two-year follow-up checks delivered from Autumn 2023.

East Lancashire – First checks have been offered in Burnley, Hyndburn Pendle and Rossendale.  Checks are due to come to the Ribble Valley in 2024. 

The diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer is supported by comprehensive guidelines from NICE. These show that it is possible to successfully treat lung cancer, especially when diagnosed at an early stage.

The national cancer strategy, Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer 2011 notes better survival rates in some other countries and recognises the importance of diagnosing cancer earlier in the UK.

Achieving World-class Cancer Outcomes -A Strategy for England 2015-2020 report of the Independent Cancer Taskforce that has been adopted by NHS England again stresses the importance of earlier diagnosis. It also makes clear the importance of listening to patient views, adopting innovative approaches and making the necessary investments to transform outcomes.

Targeted lung health checks are one of the first projects to roll out following the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan, which sets an ambition that by 2028, 75% of cancer will be diagnosed at stages 1 or 2; improving on the current national figure of 50 per cent.

Information for GPs

Cancer Alliance :: TLHC and your patient (

Cancer Alliance :: Communication from TLHC programme (

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