Shopping scan saves lives

Michael Brady, 64, who was diagnosed with stage one lung cancer after being checked at a mobile CT scanner
Michael Brady, 64, who was diagnosed with stage one lung cancer after being checked at a mobile CT scanner

Health chiefs say putting mobile CT scanners in shopping centre car parks could quadruple the number of people whose lung cancer is caught early.

Any such development would be seen as particularly welcomed in Wigan, where lung cancer rates are some of the worst in the country.

Figures released last year show the disease killing no fewer than 81 per cent of its sufferers.

New data released shows that of the 260 men and women who have been diagnosed with the illness each year, 210 deaths are recorded.

The figures, from Cancer Research UK, also show that people in Wigan are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer compared to the UK average, with rates of cases being 429.4 per 100,000 in the borough compared with the national average of 398.1.

The shopping centre project funded by Macmillan Cancer Support found that 80 per cent of lung cancers picked up through mobile screening were at the potentially curable stage 1 or 2, compared with 20 per cent picked up through usual NHS methods.

More than 46,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK every year and it is the third most common cancer in the country. Around three-quarters of cases are diagnosed at a late stage because symptoms can be vague or do not occur.

The three-month project, which took place in Manchester last year, involved more than 2,500 people having on-the-spot low-dose CT scans.

All the participants were current or past smokers, aged 55 to 74.

Overall, 42 cancers were discovered, with most of those at an early stage where curative treatment could be offered.

Dr Phil Barber, a consultant respiratory physician and clinical lead for the project, said: “We have hard evidence now that CT scanning high-risk patients helps us to identify cancers early 
enough to cure them, and we have also picked up many patients with other lung conditions at a much earlier stage than would otherwise have been possible.

“It is often assumed that people living in more deprived areas, like those chosen for this pilot, do not usually take up screening opportunities, but we have demonstrated that this is not the case, and that many people are keen to attend.”

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Our Manchester pilot has achieved extraordinary success in diagnosing lung cancer at an early curative stage.

“Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK.”