Targeted Lung Health Check Programme

Supporting earlier diagnosis of lung cancer

North Central London Cancer Alliance will begin offering Targeted Lung Health Checks (TLHC) in summer 2022, to support the early detection and treatment of lung cancer. Checks will be offered to local residents between the ages of 55 and 74 who are current or former smokers. 

The TLHC Programme is currently being rolled out in certain parts of England. Initially it was offered in areas with the highest lung cancer mortality rates. It is expected to be available nationally by 2025-26. Click here for curent TLHC areas.(map image to be added)

TLHC Circle

Invitation letters will be sent out by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH), after relevant patient data has been collected from each GP practice.

The lung health check comprises of two stages: First a telephone call with a health professional who will carry out a brief assessment of the participant’s risk of lung cancer. Secondly, if deemed to be high risk the participant will be invited for a lung health check and low dose chest CT scan. The TLHC service will organise this, as required.

The sites for attending a lung health check and CT scan appointment will be University College Hospital and Finchley Memorial Hospital.

Information for those eligible for a check is available here.  (add link)

Why are lung health checks important?

  • Lung cancer can go undetected during its early stages, as there are often no signs of symptoms.
  • Less than 20% of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive for five years or more.
  • TLHCs help detect cancer at an earlier stage, when curative treatment is more possible.
  • To date, 80% of lung cancers found by the TLHC programme have been at stage 1 or stage 2, compared to 30% without this kind of intervention.

How can primary care professionals support the TLHC programme?

We need help to raise awareness of the programme and educate the public on the importance of detecting lung cancer early. 

Across England TLHC uptake rates are currently low, with an average of 35% of people taking up their invitation for a lung health check.

Data collected from the programme’s non-attendee survey shows the most common reason given for non-attendance is that people wrongly thought they had been invited by mistake.  

GPs and practice staff can:

  • Have opportunistic discussions with patients who are eligible for the TLHC programme, to help them make an informed decision about attending an appointment when invited.
  • Code the smoking status of patients if not already done, as a correct smoking status is key for invitations to be sent out to eligible patients.
  • Direct those eligible for a check to find out more about TLHC on our public-facing website(add link) and handing out the participant booklet.
  • Put up posters and information leaflets in your practice, when they are sent to you, to help raise awareness of the programme.
  • Play the animation video and case studies on your waiting room screens.
  • Provide the public with the relevant information if you receive calls with questions (see FAQs below).

FAQs

There are often no signs or symptoms of lung cancer at an early stage. As a result, sadly 7 out of 10 cancer patients are diagnosed too late to be cured. Target lung health checks can help diagnose lung cancer early, at a stage where treatment can be simpler and more successful.

A Targeted Lung Health Check is a two stage process to help assess the health of the participants lungs. It begins with a telephone call or meeting where a specialist nurse will ask a series of questions to evaluate the participants chances of developing lung cancer. If they are identified as someone who is at an increased risk of developing lung cancer they will be invited for a quick scan to produce a detailed image of your lungs.

Patients aged 55 to 74 who have ever smoked will be invited to a Lung Health Check, providing their smoking status is correctly recorded in their GP record.

Participants will be invited to an initial assessment which usually takes place over the phone.
Patients will be contacted at the time of their appointment by a specialist health professional. The health professional will ask the patient a series of questions about their smoking history, lifestyle and current health and wellbeing. The health professional will complete two risk assessments based on the answers given by the patient. If the patient meets a certain risk threshold on either of the risk assessments, they will be offered a low dose CT scan.
The risks and benefits of the CT scan will be explained to the patient by the health professional.

TLHCs are initially being offered in areas of England with the highest lung cancer mortality rates and we are now rolling expanding the checks across the country. See maps below.

Current phase 1 and 2 locations

 

Phase 3 locations (starting in 2022)

Data from the Targeted Lung Health Check Programme so far shows that with these potentially life-saving checks, lung cancer early diagnosis rates can be as high as 80% – compared to less than 30% without this type of intervention – enabling doctors to treat cases sooner, when curative treatment is more possible, saving more lives.

Across all the 43 sites it’s expected up to 1.5m people will be invited for a check.

NHS England / Improvement’s  aim and hope is that Lung Health Checks will be rolled out nationally. There are 23 sites currently live and 20 more launching in 2022.

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