Detecting Lung Cancer Early

In a bid to enable early diagnoses of lung cancer NHS England recently announced plans to fund and
roll out portable CT scanners throughout the country in an effort to provide early intervention and
treatment. It is recognised that lung cancer treatment and survival rates can be improved if a cancer
is detected early at a more treatable stage.

This decision follows a successful pilot scheme in Manchester where accessible and convenient lung
testing centres staffed by a lung specialist nurse were provided in supermarket car parks across the
city. Directed at smokers and ex-smokers between the age of 55 and 74 years invited participants
were provided with information in the form of a leaflet and responded by attending pre-arranged

The pilot was the first of its kind and took place over a 60 day period in November 2016 across areas
of Manchester which has one of the country’s highest premature cancer death rates in people under
the age of 75 years. Questionnaires were completed followed by a lung function test (spirometry)
which was used to calculate the lung cancer risk in each case. Anyone considered high risk was
invited to have an immediate low-dose CT scan and those displaying any other symptoms of concern
were invited to discuss matters with their GP to ensure appropriate treatment and support was

CT scan results were reported on by a Specialist NHS Consultant within 14 days and in appropriate
cases a follow-up scan was obtained 3 months later. In instances where a suspicion of lung cancer
existed immediate review was made by the lung cancer team and follow up investigations made and
treatment offered wherever required.

The results of the Manchester health checks indicated a far better response than had been
anticipated with over 2,500 attending appointments reflecting an even spread of men and women.
In just over half the cases a CT scan was deemed appropriate from which 42 patients were
diagnosed with lung cancer. Most cancers found were of an early stage with 1 in 10 representing an
advanced cancer (stage 4) enabling potentially curative treatment to be offered to 9 out of 10 with
lung cancer. The scheme was expanded into other regions including the North West and Cumbria,
Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and London. NHS England recognises the value of early detection in cancer
which potentially could save thousands of lives.

Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer within the UK and accounts for more than
45,000 diagnoses each year with as many as 4 in 5 cases caused through smoking. Other causes of
lung cancer include exposure to certain chemicals, radiation and asbestos fibres. Asbestos related
lung cancer can take between 10 and 50 years to develop after exposure to asbestos fibres with
common symptoms including chest, back and shoulder pain, stubborn cough, persistent chest
infections, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, coughing up blood and persistent tiredness or
lack of energy.

There is a recognised relationship between smoking and asbestos exposure which confirms that
smokers who are exposed to asbestos fibres have an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
Interestingly, government smoking statistics obtained through General Household Survey’s (GHS)
showed a peak in the number of male smokers in the 1960’s and in 1974 showed 45% of the
population 16 years and over were cigarette smokers.

Asbestos was widely used across many industries from the 1940’s into the 1980’s before it was
eventually banned by legislation in 1999. Asbestos related lung cancer is generally associated to
those trades involving moderate to heavy exposure which is likely to include,

  • Laggers
  • Ship builders
  • Plumbers
  • Heating engineers
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters
  • Mechanics
  • Boiler makers
  • Metal workers
  • Roofers
  • Factory workers

Asbestos related lung cancer can sometimes be difficult to determine and almost certainly hinges
upon the nature and extent of exposure to asbestos fibres which require the assessment of an
experienced industrial disease solicitor. In many instances lung cancer is accompanied by other
asbestos-related conditions such as pleural plaques, pleural thickening and asbestosis but this is not
always the case and therefore all exposure needs to be discussed and considered carefully in line
with long standing international criteria used by the legal and medical profession.

Anyone diagnosed or affected by an asbestos-related disease which might include, pleural plaques,
pleural thickening, pleural effusion, asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma are invited to contact
us on FREEPHONE 0808 164 6018 or email us at,

We provide fast access to leading Industrial Disease experts with a wealth of experience and expertise in all
aspects of asbestos health. Visit us at,

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