At last – a national targeted lung cancer screening programme for England

At last, England has a national lung cancer screening programme - officially announced by the Department of Health and Social Care on Monday (26th June 2023).1  

This is a hugely significant step for lung cancer care in the UK. After years of hard work and much lobbying by the lung cancer community, the Government’s approval of a targeted screening programme will now help detect lung cancer sooner and speed up diagnosis.  Not only will many lives be saved, but it will also provide a major opportunity to address health inequalities linked to lung cancer.  

The approved rollout follows the positive recommendation made by the UK National Screening Committee last September, together with the success of the NHSE targeted lung health check pilot scheme which showed 76% of lung cancers among those tested were caught at an earlier stage. 

People aged 55 to 74 with a GP record including a history of smoking will now be assessed and invited for screening and access to smoking cessations services.  

According to the Government, the screening programme will cost £270 million annually once fully implemented - and is expected to detect lung cancer in as many as 9,000 people, deliver nearly one million scans, and provide treatment to patients earlier.

Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer, with nearly 35,000 deaths each year.2 Diagnosing lung cancer early via screening will do much to improve overall cancer outcomes.   

The UKLCC now plans to support colleagues across the UK to ensure that the governments of devolved nations follow the lead of the UK Government by implementing their own national programmes. It will also monitor and evaluate the implementation in England e.g., in terms of its reporting system, turnaround times, workforce, and tailoring screening to consider local population and service needs. 

It's been a long time coming but, without doubt, this is the single biggest intervention in improving lung cancer survival in the UK.  We extend our thanks for all those instrumental in making this milestone happen.