Lung cancer is one of several cancers whose symptoms are the focus of the next phase of the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign. Launched by NHS England & Improvement working with Public Health England, this phase of the campaign went live in August 2021.
The campaign highlights cancer symptoms and encourages people with these symptoms to talk to their GP. It also reminds the public that the NHS is open for them, and able to see them safely. Its goal is to ensure that people know how and when to access services and reassures them that the NHS wants to see them.
The NHSE&I Long Term Plan ambition is to improve early diagnosis and survival for people diagnosed with cancer. The ambition is that 75% of all cancer will be diagnosed at an early stage and 55,000 more people will be living 5 years or more after their diagnosis by 2028.
Diagnosing lung cancer early makes it more treatable and increases survival rates. The HUHY campaign forms part of the work to reduce inequalities in cancer outcomes and improve access and experience of care for people.
Launching the Targeted Lung Health Check programme
To support this ambition the NHSE&I Targeted Lung Health Check programme (TLHC) is underway. Seventeen projects were established across 23 CCGs during phases one and two of the programme. The projects are targeting those CCGs who have some of the highest rates of mortality from lung cancer.
The TLHC Programme primary objective is to increase the diagnosis of early-stage lung cancer. A broader secondary objective is promoting lung health more generally.
Why does this matter?
Lung cancer is the third most common cancer and represents 13% of all cancers and 22% of all cancer deaths. Three quarters of people are diagnosed with late-stage cancer (see fig 1 for additional facts from Cancer Research UK). Over one third of lung cancers are linked to deprivation and lung cancer deaths are more common in people living in deprived areas. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org
Fig 1 Lung Cancer Facts
What is the Targeted Lung Health Check programme (TLHC)?
People in the selected areas aged 55 to 75 and with a smoking history (current smoker or ex-smoker) are invited to attend a lung health check by their GP.
The lung health check involves a discussion with a clinical professional around lung cancer symptoms, using a risk prediction tool and smoking cessation advice.
The results are then used to calculate a person's individual lung cancer risk. Anyone at high risk of lung cancer is invited to have a low-dose CT scan. If the results show signs of anything concerning, the person may be referred for a further low dose CT scan or to secondary care for further investigations and treatment. NHS England » NHS to rollout lung cancer scanning trucks across the country
The Manchester Lung Health Check Programme was one of the earlier pilots. It showed that more people were diagnosed early with lung cancer through a targeted lung health check programme than were normally diagnosed. It also identified people with lung cancer who had reported no symptoms.
Phase 3 of this programme is now commencing, and we will be working with the Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon & Gloucestershire (SWAG) Cancer Alliance to support the setting up, design and rollout of the programme. The ultimate aim will be to diagnose more people, earlier. This will enable them to get the best treatment and have improved outcomes relating to both experiences of care and survival.