NHS England have committed to spending £70million on mobile lung cancer scanning vehicles to help reduce deaths from lung cancer through early detection.
These trucks will be strategically located in supermarket carparks across areas of Britain which are suffering from the highest rates of the disease, offering the service to people aged 55-74.
This much needed investment comes following the release of the NHS 10-year plan earlier this year, committing to prioritise respiratory health.
Around 36,000 people die to lung cancer in the UK each year, with an additional 85,000 people living with a diagnosis. However, research from Public Health England suggests that a further 1.1 million people are estimated to be living with undiagnosed lung cancer or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Research from the British Lung Foundation shows that this figure could well grow, with lung cancer rates having steadily raised since 2004 by over 20%.
According to research undertaken by Cancer Research UK, it is believed that as many as 79% of lung cancer cases are preventable. While old age is the largest risk factor; smoking, workplace exposure and air pollution are all significant contributors to the disease.
It is hoped that the new lung screening vehicles will assess approximately 600,000 people in England over the next four years, in conjunction with an increased focus in local hospitals. Out of those 600,000 people scanned, it’s estimated that some 3,400 diagnoses will be made – potentially saving thousands of lives.
“These new projects will save lives,” said Cally Palmer, the organisation’s national cancer director.
“Early diagnosis for cancer is crucial as it is easier to treat, not only saving lives, but it will also mean thousands of patients will avoid life-changing treatments.”
The initiative follows a similar one pioneered by Macmillan Cancer Support, who parked lung health check vehicles in car parks in Manchester. Of the 1,384 scans they performed 42 led to a new diagnosis of lung cancer, with 89% of those going on to treatment with a “curative intent”.