Specialists at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals have joined forces with RM Partners, the West London Cancer Alliance hosted by leading cancer centre The Royal Marsden, to diagnose patients with lung cancer earlier.
The NHS England funded initiative, which includes patients having access to a mobile CT scanner, is the first of its kind in London and means people in Hillingdon and in Hammersmith & Fulham who have been identified as being at increased risk of lung cancer will be invited for a lung health check. If appropriate, they will then be offered a CT scan in a convenient place on the same day.
Lung cancer is by far the most common cause of deaths from cancer in the UK because the majority of people are diagnosed in its late stages, when treatment has a more limited impact.
Twenty GP surgeries across the two London boroughs are taking part in the pilot and over 7,000 current or ex-smokers between 60 and 75, are being invited for a lung health check. Hammersmith & Fulham has the highest lung cancer incidence and mortality across west London, and Hillingdon has the lowest one-year lung cancer survival rate.
People in Hammersmith & Fulham will be invited to a lung health check at Royal Brompton Hospital, while those in Hillingdon will be invited to a mobile CT scanning unit in Tesco or Sainsbury’s car parks. The mobile CT unit uses a novel wireless technology developed in the UK which, for the first time, allows scans to be transmitted for remote diagnosis within minutes, rather than being couriered on CDs.
Dr Anand Devaraj, consultant thoracic radiologist at Royal Brompton Hospital, is leading the work. He said: “Early detection of lung cancer saves lives, but often people are diagnosed at a late stage of the disease, having been unaware of any signs or symptoms in the earlier stages. The earlier someone is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment they can be offered.
“This pilot is a real opportunity to help improve people’s lung health. Those who smoke will be offered help to stop and, where we find people who do not have lung cancer but a different condition, we can make sure they are referred for the appropriate treatment.”
Nicola Hunt, Managing Director at RM Partners, said: “This is a fantastic project that we know can have an immediate and significant impact on the early diagnosis of lung cancer. We are extremely excited to be the first Cancer Alliance in London to offer a mobile service, which gives patients easy access to health checks and CT scans within their local community.”
The initial pilot will run for one year, with the study into the outcomes and results for patients ongoing for a further year.