St Helens’ new lung health checks aim to save lives !

Full details about St Helens’ new lung health checks aim to save lives

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A new lung health screening initiative, which is believed to have saved hundreds of lives across England, is being launched in St Helens.

People aged 55-74 in St Helens with a history of smoking who are registered with a local GP practice are now starting to receive a formal invitation for a free check-up.

NHS England targets people most at risk of lung cancer, and says the tests have been shown to significantly improve early detection of the disease.

Thousands of people across the country have already taken the opportunity to assess their lung health.

igures show that 1,200 people have been diagnosed with cancer through the program.

Detecting cancers at an early stage

Three-quarters of these cancers are detected at an early stage. Much earlier than it would have been possible without these examinations.

People who are diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer are about 20 times more likely to survive five years than those who develop the cancer late.

Within the Merseyside and Cheshire regions, targeted lung health screenings have so far identified 111 cancers, 68.5 per cent of which were stage I.

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This enabled 74 people diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer to receive curative treatment.

Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the UK

Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the UK, killing more people than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer combined.

It is a particular issue in Saint Helens, with a local incidence higher than the national average.

St. Helens is currently ranked the 37th highest nationally for people with lung, tracheal and bronchial cancers and lung cancer cases and premature deaths above the national average.

Simple checks

Health leaders say simple lung scans offer a way to dramatically change the situation.

They could revolutionize long-term lung cancer survival rates in the region by detecting the disease at the earliest opportunity, even before symptoms appear.

However, for the tests to work, people need to seize the opportunity, when the NHS calls them to do so, and make an appointment – even if they feel well.

Hard to detect

Dr Hilaryleet, clinical director at St Helens Cares, added: “Lung cancer can be difficult to detect early which is why so many people are now diagnosed when the disease is no longer incurable.

“However, as we can see from existing programmes, these scans help us diagnose more people earlier, when it is much easier to treat.

“That is why we want everyone who has been invited to seize the opportunity and make an appointment.

“It is possible that you will not have any symptoms when you receive your invitation, but that should not prevent you from making an appointment. You should check whether you feel fine or not.

“The main goal of these scans is to find cancer at the earliest opportunity before any symptoms appear, so, just as you would have a breast exam or send a bowel exam kit, we now want you to get your lungs checked.

“For the majority of those present, everything will be fine, while for those who do have something wrong, catching it early can make all the difference.”

The first St Helens residents to receive their invitations for a free lung health check are those in Barr, Bold and Sutton.

The initiative will then be gradually launched across the borough including Newton, Earlstown in March; Moss Bank, Rainsford, Windell, Eccleston, West Park, Thato Heath and Rainhill in July; and Haydock, Billing and Senley Green in December.

Invitees will make an appointment with a lung health nurse, either over the phone or face-to-face.

Those who are then deemed to be at high risk of lung cancer will be offered a low-dose CT scan in a mobile van located within their community.

This scan is more accurate at picking up cancer than a standard x-ray. The program also offers help and advice on the best ways to quit smoking for those who are ready to make the change.

The 55-74 age group chosen nationally for the program reflects the fact that the incidence of lung cancer increases with age, and checks have been found to benefit people in this age group the most.

or more information about the programme, visit

If you have a persistent cough for three weeks or longer, please contact your GP.

Maybe it’s something other than cancer but it’s best to get it checked out. You can also contact NHS111 for advice, see

If you have a history of smoking, and are eligible for a check, you will receive a letter from the NHS inviting you to make an appointment. People will be contacted over the coming months as screenings begin in St Helens.