A pair of giant inflatable lungs are coming to Doncaster next week – one of the country’s lung cancer hotspots – to raise awareness of the disease.
The Let’s Talk Lung Cancer Roadshow – a national tour of the world’s first walk-through lung exhibit – is coming to the Asda store on Gliwice Way, on Wednesday, November 9.
People will be able to step inside the giant pair of 12 ft high x 15 ft inflatable lungs to learn more from health professionals about lung health, lung cancer, and the effects of smoking.
The NHS are touring England’s lung cancer hotspots with the giant inflatable lungs and specialist teams of volunteers in a bid to catch more cancers early and give people the best chance of successful treatment.
Community engagement teams and volunteers will be on hand to talk to members of the public and encourage those with suspected symptoms to visit their GP as soon as possible.
Nearly 200,000 people smoke in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw. More than half of those people will die prematurely from smoking-related illness, losing on average 10 years of life. The national average for adults who smoke is 13.9% – whereas in Doncaster the rate is 19.1%.
Dr David Crichton is a Doncaster GP and the Chief Medical Officer for the NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB).
He said: “The lung health check programme has been operational across Doncaster for over a year which has undoubtedly saved lives already. It’s great news that it is now being rolled out across South Yorkshire to help diagnose many more people. We welcome this roadshow which will help raise more awareness and encourage people to think seriously about their lung health.”
There are often no signs or symptoms or lung cancer at an early stage. As a result, around 7 in 10 cancer patients are currently being diagnosed too late to be cured.
Doncaster was one of 10 areas nationally chosen to pilot Lung Health Checks and the pioneering programme started in March 2021. Those invited to take part are people identified as being at a higher risk of lung cancer – typically those aged between 55 and 75, who either currently smoke or have smoked in the past and are registered with a Doncaster GP.
After a phone call with a specialist nurse to evaluate your chances of developing lung cancer, those identified as having a higher chance of developing lung cancer are invited to have a low-dose CT scan in a mobile scanning unit.
From now until March 2026, mobile scanning units will make their way across the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw area in a bid to help detect lung cancer earlier, as well as identifying other lung conditions.
Dr Jason Page, Clinical Director, South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Total Lung Health Check Programme LHC said: “We have just finished our first round of Targeted Lung Health Checks in Doncaster and have found over 160 people with cancer, including 119 lung cancers. The good news is that around three-quarters of those people with cancer have been found at an early, curative stage.
“As well as finding cancer we are finding many other unknown lung (and other) conditions such as emphysema, allowing patients to access early treatment. We will be returning to Doncaster for a whole new round of checks in April 2023.
“The benefits of screening are clear to see. The programme is reducing the devastating impact that lung cancer has on hundreds of families across the region.
“Lung cancer remains one of the most common cancers accounting for thousands of deaths a year in the UK. Because lung cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms at an early stage, it is frequently diagnosed late when treatment options are more limited, and survival rates are lower, but if caught early, it’s much more treatable and the survival rate is much higher.”
The “Let’s Talk Lung Cancer Roadshow”, in collaboration with Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, is travelling to 26 locations around the country as part of the NHS Help Us, Help You campaign.
In a new survey, less than two-thirds (57%) of the public recognised a cough for more than three weeks as a possible symptom of lung cancer and almost a quarter of respondents (24%) said they would do nothing or wait if they had this symptom.
Only half (55%) said they would contact their GP if they had a cough for three weeks or more, despite this being a key symptom of lung cancer.
NHS National Cancer Director, Dame Cally Palmer, said: “A life-saving diagnosis can begin with a simple conversation, and the NHS is doing everything it can to bring lung cancer to the forefront of people’s minds.
“So if you have had a persistent cough for three weeks or more, feel aches or pains when breathing or coughing, or show any of the other symptoms of lung cancer, help us help you and please come forward for care.”
The rollout of the campaign comes at a time when NHS teams are treating people for lung cancer at pre-pandemic levels.
The number of people coming forward for lung checks is also now back at pre-pandemic levels, with over 10,000 referrals over the same two-month period, having been the slowest of all cancer types to recover.