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Lung health checks launched in East Lancashire in drive to save more lives

Past and current smokers in East Lancashire are being invited to an NHS lung health check from this month in a drive to improve earlier diagnosis of lung cancer and save more lives. 

With one of the highest mortality rates for lung cancer in England, Lancashire and South Cumbria is one of 43 places across the country to run the Targeted Lung Health Check programme. 

The programme has already been rolled out in Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool.  Rossendale will be included in the next phase of the programme, with other areas in East Lancashire to follow over the next two years.

The initiative means more than 17,000 past and current smokers aged 55 to 74 in Rossendale will be invited to a lung health check by their GP. 

Dr Neil Smith, clinical lead for cancer in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “Lung health checks are like an MOT for your lungs and could seriously improve the quality of your life. 

“We know Rossendale has a higher rate of lung diseases than the national average, due mainly to the prevalence of smoking in the area. A huge number of people could benefit from discovering any lung abnormalities early enough to be treated and to prevent long-term damage.” 

The lung health check takes place in two stages. The first is an initial phone assessment with a specially trained health care professional. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they are offered a low dose CT scan of the lungs for further investigation. 

The scanner is housed in a mobile unit and will be parked at an accessible site in Rossendale.

Lung cancer can often be caught too late as there are rarely symptoms at the earlier stages. The programme is designed to check those most at risk of developing lung cancer in order to spot signs earlier, at the stage when it’s much more treatable and ultimately saving more lives. 

The Targeted Lung Health Check programme estimates it will diagnose around 9,000 cancers earlier than would otherwise have been within the 43 places running the checks. This offers the opportunity for earlier interventions, including curative surgery, which will save people’s lives. Stop smoking advice will also be offered to support current smokers.

For more information on the Targeted Lung Health Check programme, please visit https://lungcheckslsc.co.uk/