NHS anti-cancer drive brings scanning trucks to supermarkets

NHS England wants to catch lung cancer before it's too late with the roll-out of mobile scanning units. £70 million is going to fund ten projects to check people at highest risk. It is hoped that the targeted screening will help improve survival rates by going first to the areas with the highest death rates from lung cancer.

The NHS Long Term Plan set out an ambition that 55,000 more people will survive their cancer, principally by increasing the detection rate of cancer at stages one and two from 50% to 75%. This new programme has the potential to reach around 600,000 people over four years, detecting approximately 3,400 cancers and saving hundreds of lives across the country. It will also identify other health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Cally Palmer, national cancer director at NHS England, said: "Catching more cancers early is a cornerstone of the NHS Long Term Plan, and targeted lung health checks is one of the first projects to roll out following publication. These new projects will save lives – 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."

A pilot project in Manchester scanned 2,541 patients and found 65 lung cancers affecting 61 patients. Prior to the study 18% of lung cancers were diagnosed at stage one and 48% stage four. After the study, 68% of lung cancers were diagnosed at stage one and 11% were stage four.