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Neuroendocrine Cancer Community

Department of Health and Social Care – Targeted lung cancer screening programme

Jun 26, 2023

Today, Monday 26th June, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced the national roll out of the Targeted lung cancer screening programme.
This programme has been designed to help diagnose Lung Cancer quickly and at an early stage.
Criteria for inclusion is:
  • People aged 55-74 with a GP record including a history of smoking will be assessed and invited for screenings and smoking cessation services
This rollout follows a successful opening phase where approximately 70% of the screening took place in mobile units parked in convenient places – such as supermarket car parks – to ensure easy access and focused on more deprived areas where people are four times more likely to smoke.
During the initial phase almost 900,000 people were invited for checks, 375,000 risk assessments made and 200,000 scans were carried out.
More than 2,000 people were detected as having cancer, 76% at an earlier stage compared to 29% in 2019 outside of the programme.
The programme, backed by a recommendation from the UK National Screening Committee – will use patient’s GP records for those aged 55 to 74 to identify current or former smokers. Patients will have their risk of cancer assessed based on their smoking history and other factors and those considered high risk will be invited for specialist scans every two years.
Smoking tobacco is the biggest cause of lung cancer in the UK. Even light or occasional smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, and that includes breathing in other people’s cigarette smoke.
We, at Neuroendocrine Cancer UK, welcome this national rollout and fully support its aims.
However we would also continue to encourage people’s awareness and vigilance around the potential signs and symptoms of lung cancer – even in those who have never smoked:
  • A cough that doesn’t go away after 2 or 3 weeks – that gets worse – with that phlegm MAY contain blood
  • Chest infections that keep coming back
  • Wheeze and/or asthma like symptoms
  • New/Persistent/Worsening breathlessness
  • New/Persistent/Worsening fatigue and/or lethargy (extreme tiredness / lack of energy)
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
Up to 14% of people with lung cancer in the UK have never smoked – and this includes those who diagnosed with lower grade(s) Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Lung (for example, Typical Lung Carcinoid also known as Lung NET).
Lung cancer in never-smokers represents a growing proportion of patients. The relationship between smoking status, symptom appraisal and help-seeking behaviour is complex. Little is known about cancer symptom-related health behaviours according to smoking status.
A study, published in November last year (2022) explored lung cancer patients’ experiences of a lung cancer diagnosis, and looked at differences according to smoking history.
You can read the full study here
The full DHSC Press Release can be read here