People living in the Spen* area of North Kirklees are being targeted as part of a multi-million-pound programme which is saving lives through early lung cancer diagnosis.
More than 2,000 people have already been checked for signs of lung cancer since the programme began in North Kirklees in December. The checks have so far identified 19 patients with suspected cancer and resulted in others being referred for further investigation.
People aged 55 – 74 who smoke or have ever smoked, and are registered with a GP in the area, will be invited for a health check with a specially trained nurse. The check will take place over the ‘phone and last around 20 minutes.
If any issues are found during the health check, people will be offered a CT scan at a mobile scanner unit, located in the car park of the Tesco superstore in Cleckheaton.
This phase of the programme will see a further 5,500 people invited to attend the life-saving health checks.
Dr Khalid Naeem, GP and Chair of NHS Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, said, ‘Lung health checks have a vital role to play in the fight against cancer. They can help find problems early, often before you notice anything is wrong, and at a stage when treatment could be simpler and more successful.
‘Most lung cancers grow slowly enough for them to be found at an early stage by a lung scan – so this programme will ultimately save more lives.’
Debra Colleran, a patient at Cherry Tree GP Surgery in Batley, says taking part in the programme gave her vital peace of mind.
She said, ‘I stopped smoking 15 years ago but had previously been an active smoker for about 15 years before that. It’s an extremely important subject and I’m delighted to have been able to take part.
‘The nurse was very helpful and explained everything to me. The results that came back have certainly put my mind at rest.’ Debra’s assessment indicated that she did not need a CT scan.
Debra added, ‘I’d encourage anyone who gets the chance to take part in this programme to accept the invitation.’
Programme lead for Kirklees CCG, Marion Redford, said, ‘Even if you feel fit and well, or gave up smoking years ago, it’s really important that you attend a lung health check when you’re invited. Lung cancer is the most common cancer in West Yorkshire and is directly related to smoking and tobacco use. There are often no signs or symptoms of lung cancer at an early stage. As a result, sadly around 7 in 10 cancer patients are currently being diagnosed too late to be cured.’
She added, ‘We’ve done everything possible to make the health checks as convenient as possible. The initial appointment is by telephone and people who need a CT scan will be invited to attend the mobile scanner in Cleckheaton rather than a local hospital.’
North Kirklees is one of 23 Lung Health Check pilot sites which are contributing towards reaching the NHS Long Term Plan ambitions of catching thousands more cancers at an earlier stage when they are easier to treat. Across England, around 600 cancers have been diagnosed early so far, giving patients a much better chance of beating the illness.
The programme is supported by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance and has been funded by NHS England as part of a national pilot designed to improve early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
North Kirklees GP federation, CURO Health, are delivering the Targeted Lung Health Check Programme in Kirklees. In total, there are around 19,000 people in North Kirklees who are eligible for a health check.