The NHS is to introduce a national targeted lung cancer screening programme for people aged 55 to 74 who are at high risk of lung cancer in England, following a recommendation from the UK National Screening Committee.
Around 35,000 people die and 48,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. It has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers. This is largely because lung cancer tends to be diagnosed at a late stage, when treatment is much less likely to be effective. When fully rolled out, this new national screening programme will detect around 9,000 more cancers per year at an early stage.
As smoking causes 72% of lung cancers, the programme will use a history of smoking from GP records to identify the cohort eligible for screening. Current or former smokers aged 55 to under 75 years will have an initial assessment of their individual lung cancer risk. Anyone assessed as being at high risk will be referred to have a CT scan. They will be reinvited for a further scan every 24 months, until they age out of the programme. Patients will also be signposted to smoking cessation services.
The Targeted Lung Health Check programme is currently being run predominantly in deprived areas. Since its launch more than 2,000 people have been identified with cancer and crucially over three-quarters were at an earlier stage - giving those patients a much better chance of survival.
We will now build on this existing programme, rolling it out nationally with £1 billion in funding over the next seven years. The national screening programme will reach 40% of the eligible population by March 2025 and 100% by March 2030.