Smokers in Sunderland and South Tyneside set to be offered lung health check ups under new NHS scheme

Health bosses are primed to deliver thousands of health checks across Sunderland and South Tyneside to help improve early diagnosis of lung cancer.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT) is taking part in a national NHS programme targeting those at high risk in areas with high death rates from lung cancer.

People aged between 55-75 who have ‘smoked 100 cigarettes in their lifetime’ will be invited to a free lung check, with some also offered CT scan follow-ups.

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The scheme hopes to detect lung cancer early to speed access to potentially life-saving treatments.

Cigarette smokers are set to be offered lung health checks under a new NHS initiative.
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Eligible patients from across South Tyneside and Sunderland will be flagged via their GP records.

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Details of the programme were revealed as part of an update to Sunderland City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee last week (Tuesday, November 1) at City Hall, in Sunderland.

Vicky Mitchell, STSFT’s divisional director for clinical support, said the new programme would be “significant for our population” and is expected to deliver around 1,200 initial appointments and up to 600 CT scans every month.

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In response to questions from councillors, health chiefs confirmed the programme had staffing in place, including respiratory nurses and radiographers.

Both South Tyneside and Sunderland have a higher than average rate of lung cancer than the national figure of 74.9 per 100,000 population, sitting at 118 per 100,000 in South Tyneside and 105.6 in Sunderland.

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The NHS trust estimates around 48,000 people will be eligible for a health check invitation due to their age and history of smoking.

Of those, it is expected 12,000 could be asked for a scan.

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Vicky Mitchell, speaking after the city council scrutiny meeting, added: “We know that lung cancer is typically diagnosed at a late stage.

“This can be because symptoms are not always apparent until the disease is advanced.

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“We also know that people can be too worried about being diagnosed with the disease to seek help.

“We want to get ahead of that by offering these checks to patients we know are most at risk.

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“By doing this, treatment can be simpler and more successful and improve survival rates for those diagnosed with cancer.

“Smoking remains the largest cause of illness and premature death across our area and quitting gives people the best chance of improving their health.”