Programme continues to deliver targeted preventative care for local residents

At least nine people in Southend have had previously undiscovered lung cancer found and treated thanks to the life-saving lung health check programme that was launched in April 2022.  The same programme is also benefitting residents living in Thurrock.

The latest data shows that 4,834 checks have been completed in Southend. In addition, there has been total of 1,827 CT scans and 127 referrals to into hospitals after those scans to follow up care linked to cardio-vascular disease, gallbladder, respiratory, breast, gastro, urology, liver and renal findings.

People living in Southend aged between 55 and under 75 years of age and who are current or former smokers, were invited to have a Free NHS Lung Health Check at the beginning of the programme which identifies people at risk of developing lung cancer.  Those at higher risk are offered a scan, then referred for treatment if needed.

One of the residents who received a Lung Health Check was Isla, 62 from Southend, she said; “I feel very lucky that I received the letter and I am so grateful that I’ve been given a second chance. I’m not sure at this stage what the future holds but I would like to urge anyone reading this if you have received a letter don’t delay get your lungs checked out today. The first thing I did was give up smoking and I am adamant that I will never smoke another cigarette again.”

Southend has one of the highest rates of death from lung cancer in the UK and some of the highest rates of smoking with 42% of the local population labelled as smokers. The programme is one of the second wave of sites to be rolled out as part the NHS Long Term Plan. The programme is being rolled out a phased way from April 2022 and will run for four years.

Whilst cancer survival is the highest its been, the local NHS is keen more lives by catching more cancers earlier and starting treatment faster.

Dr Donald McGeachy, Cancer Alliance Lead for the programme said:

I would urge everyone who is invited to please come along and receive your check. It will take place with a lung health check nurse at a convenient location, close to where you live.

Across the health and care system we want to make sure 75% of all cancer cases diagnosed at stage 1 or 2 by 2028. This includes investing in programmes like the lung health checks initiative to improve screening and testing.

We are committed to continuing to work together and with local communities to do all that we can to improve outcomes for local people – particularly in areas like Southend and Thurrock where we know some residents face shorter life expectancy from preventable causes of death.

We know that if we can catch lung cancer early then treatment is possible, it also means that we can allow people to continue to live a long, happy and healthy life.

In November 2020, Thurrock launched the targeted lung health checks programme for current or previous smokers aged 55 and under 75. 15,000 patients were invited and over 5,500 lung health checks have been completed. There have been over 27 lung cancers found, most at an earlier stage, making it more treatable.

Whilst the Lung Health Check programme has been a success so far, the local NHS is keen to do more to save lives from lung cancer and to improve the health and wellbeing of the local population.

To find out more about lung health checks, and to find out if you are eligible, please follow the link here.