A consultant radiologist at Royal Preston Hospital is concerned that locals are not aware of the life changing programme in Blackburn that is aimed at detecting lung cancer and other diseases early.

The Targeted Lung Health Check programme, which uses a low radiation CT scan to look for these diseases, has been running in the Blackburn area for over a year now and John Howells, programme lead, says it “has started to prove its worth.”

However, Howells is concerned that “it is not well enough known in the area for everyone to really understand what it is all about" and are dismissing the notifications inviting them for a lung health check. 

The aim of the programme is to detect diseases and cancer earlier so that people can be treated sooner and more effectively, which leads to more lives being saved.

Since Lung cancer often has no symptoms in the earlier stages this can result in it not being found until the later stages when treatment is limited and the chances of survival, sadly, decrease.

The North West region was one of the first regions in the UK to pilot the Targeted Lung Health Check programme in the summer last year, and the UK is one of the first countries in the world to set it up.

It’s a free service that is being offered to people between the ages of 55 and 74 who are current or former smokers as they are at greater risk of lung cancer.

John said that those who are diagnosed after experiencing symptoms like coughing up blood have a five per cent likelehood of surviving long term. However, people with screened detected lung cancer have a likelehood of 75 per cent chance long-term survival.

The Lung Health Check takes part in two stages. The first is an appointment with a specially trained nurse to assess risk level and if you are found to be at high risk of having lung cancer the a low dose CT scan will be carried out.

The CT scan will capture an image of the lungs and identify if there are any issues which need further treatment.

Recent data shows that 5,174 deaths in Lancashire were related to smoking which gives the county a rate of 229.1. Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen death rate is 321.6 - significantly higher than Lancashire’s which is why access to early diagnosis is vital.

The first phase of the programme in Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool has come to an end and the criteria for who is eligible has extended. 

Now, those who were offered a lung check but rejected the offer due to hesistancy and those who weren't 55 at the time but now are, are able to take part.

To find out more visit https://www.blackburnwithdarwenccg.nhs.uk/health/healthy-lungs/