People in Leeds will be invited for a third lung cancer scan following an additional £4.5 million in funding from Yorkshire Cancer Research.
The independent, regional charity has committed to funding the pioneering Leeds Lung Health Check for a further two years, giving people the opportunity to receive a further follow-up scan for early signs of cancer.
Since the multimillion-pound clinical trial launched in November 2018, over 7000 people have been scanned and more than 230 people in the city have been diagnosed with cancer. In total, more than 13,000 screening scans have taken place.
The Leeds Lung Health Check, delivered in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council, is one of the largest lung screening trials currently running in the world.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at the charity said: “The Leeds Lung Health Check has saved lives in the city by finding cancers at a very early stage, when they are much easier to treat. It’s also played an important role in providing the evidence and best practice guidance required for the NHS to introduce a nation-wide lung screening programme.
“The additional funding will enable more follow-up scans for those at high risk of lung cancer. But we’ll also be able to give more people in Leeds the opportunity to have a scan for the first time, extending the programme’s reach even further.”
The new funding means the programme will now continue until late 2024 and could lead to an additional 140 people receiving treatment for cancer.
As well as inviting those who have already participated in the trial for a third scan, the extension means people who have previously not taken up their invitation will have another chance to receive a potentially life-saving lung health check. More support will be provided to help these people take up the offer.
In addition, some people who previously contacted the service but were not eligible for a scan will be re-contacted to see if they now qualify for screening.
The scans take place in a mobile van that travels to supermarket and shopping centre car parks around Leeds, allowing people to attend appointments close to where they live. Those attending a check are given a special type of x-ray called a screening CT scan. People who currently smoke are also offered specialist stop-smoking support while on the unit.
Professor Mat Callister, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The Leeds Lung Health Check has made strong progress over the past three and a half years despite the Covid pandemic. We have pioneered key aspects of lung screening such as telephone consultations to prioritise people in most need of visiting the unit for a lung health check, reminder invitations to increase uptake and on-site stop smoking support, which has proved very successful.
“The innovations led by the trial have now been incorporated into the NHS England Targeted Lung Health Check programme and have also been submitted to the UK National Screening Committee to help determine how a national lung cancer screening programme could be introduced. The new funding will yield further evidence to shape lung cancer screening in the UK while saving more lives in Leeds.”
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Yorkshire. About 4,300 people are diagnosed with it every year in the region.
Because lung cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms at an early stage, it is frequently diagnosed late when treatment options are more limited and survival rates are lower. The screenings help detect lung cancer before any signs or symptoms develop, when it is usually easier to treat.