Car park tests for cancer to boost early detection

Potential cancer patients could be offered screening in shopping centre car parks after a pilot scheme successfully detected the disease in one in 33 people.

The NHS will invite people susceptible to lung cancer across four areas of England to mobile screening units in an effort to catch the illness early.

A scheme in Manchester invited 2,500 people aged 55 to 74 with a history of smoking for CT scans in car parks, community hubs and shopping centres.

One in 33 showed signs of cancer, but four out of five of the cases were caught early – at stage one or two.

Former Manchester Lord Mayor Paul Murphy with MCIP Lung Clinical Lead Dr Phil Barber. Pic Macmillan

Image: The scheme was trialled in Manchester. Pic Macmillan Cancer Support

Similar services will now be set up in four locations including London, the North and part of Yorkshire.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens will officially announce the scheme’s expansion at The Economist War On Cancer event in London.

Dany Bell, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The earlier that someone is diagnosed with cancer, the better their chance of successful treatment is.

“So it’s great news that this pilot scheme is now going to be rolled out across other parts of England.

“Lung cancer is a notoriously difficult type to diagnose at an early stage, and initiatives such as this make it easier for high-risk people to get their health checked.”

Lung cancer

Image: Lung cancer is ‘notoriously difficult type to diagnose at an early stage’

British Lung Foundation honorary medical adviser Dr Nick Hopkinson also welcomed the expansion of the scheme.

“By the time lung cancer causes symptoms it is usually too late for it to be cured. CT screening tests mean that it can be picked up at a much earlier stage.”

It comes as a new audit shows lung cancer operations have hit a new high.

There were 5,936 lung cancer removal operations in English hospitals in 2015 – up from 5,657 operations in 2014.

But survival rates for patients after a month and three months have reached their best-ever levels, according to the report by the Royal College of Physicians.

Some 98.1% of patients were alive after 30 days and 96.3% after 90 days. One-year survival rates are steady at almost 89%.