Iconic South West backdrop is latest location for life-saving NHS lung health checks

A view from the lung health check programme truck of Smeaton’s Tower.

A view from the lung health check programme truck of Smeaton’s Tower. Credit Sarah Goodman

Life-saving lung health checks with an iconic South West backdrop are set to be offered to thousands of smokers and ex-smokers from Plymouth and surrounding areas.

More than 15,000 people in the region have already been checked.

The Lung Health Check Programme gives current and past smokers the chance of having lung cancer detected and treated earlier.

Today (Monday 22 January) the first of 6,000 people invited to have check will have their scan on The Hoe, overlooking Smeaton’s Tower.

Cyrus Daneshvar, of the Peninsula Cancer Alliance and consultant in respiratory medicine at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, said: “Lung cancer is often caught too late, as there are few if any symptoms in the earlier stages.

“The programme is designed to check those most at risk of developing lung cancer in order to spot signs earlier, at the stage when it is treatable and ultimately saving more lives.

“We realise that some people find the prospect of a scan daunting. It’s why we’re particularly pleased to be able to offer the lung health checks on The Hoe with a view of the iconic Smeaton’s Tower and spectacular Plymouth Sound.  We are hopeful it will provide a backdrop which puts them at ease.”

People who smoke or have done so in the past will be invited by letter by service provider In Health to have a lung health check.

The checks will take place in two stages.

The first is an initial phone assessment with a specially trained professional. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they are offered a low dose CT scan of the lungs for further investigation.

The initiative means more than 47,500 past and current smokers aged 55 to 74 in Plymouth will be invited to a lung health.

Thousands more have also received scans at previous sites across Saltash, Liskeard, Bodmin, St Austell, Newquay and a second location in Plymouth.

The lung health checks will take place on The Hoe until April 2024.

To date the community initiative, part of the NHS Lung Health Check Programme, has seen more than three quarters (77%) of cancers caught at either stage one or two, giving patients a much better chance of beating the illness. This compares to less than a third of cancers caught at either stage one or two in 2018.

People diagnosed with lung cancer at the earliest stage are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years than those whose cancer is caught late.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said:  “We are delighted to be supporting the roll out of lung health checks in Plymouth.

“The team will be bringing our inflatable lungs to the Hoe, Parade Ground, Plymouth today (Monday 22nd January) to chat to the local community about the lung health checks and answer any questions they may have.

“We know there can sometimes be a little hesitance about going for check-ups, or confusion as to why a person has been invited, particularly if they feel fit and well.

“We are here to alleviate any concerns and encourage those eligible to take up the opportunity – even if they feel well and have no symptoms. Lung health checks are saving lives and we want as many people as possible to benefit from them.”

Stop smoking advice will  be offered to support people who smoke by the local stop smoking service.

One You Plymouth Smoking Cessation practitioners will be providing friendly, specialist, personalised support needed to enable smokers to stop smoking, by offering appointments either over the phone or inviting people to come to face to face clinics, as quitting with support makes someone four times more likely to stop smoking successfully.

The In Health health care assistants will also have available free vape starter kits to help people, if they wish, with their quit attempt.

Councillor Mary Aspinall, Plymouth City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care: “Bringing this lung check programme to Plymouth makes it is easier than ever to get checked out. We’re urging anyone who gets a invite to join the thousands of others – and get in touch for your check.

“It’s also a good reminder for anyone who smokes to think about cutting down and stopping by contacting our local stop smoking support service, One You Plymouth.”

For more information on the Lung Health Check programme please visit Lung Health Checks – Peninsula Cancer Alliance

The lung health check programme truck on The Hoe with Smeaton’s Tower in the background.

The lung health check programme truck on The Hoe with Smeaton’s Tower in the background.