Cancer tests in supermarket car parks to be launched by NHS

The NHS is set to roll out mobile lung cancer testing centres that have helped to significantly increase early diagnoses by offering cancer screening from supermarket car parks.

The programme, due to be announced today by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, will fund portable CT-scanners to screen smokers and ex-smokers in three more parts of the country, potentially saving thousands of lives.

In Manchester, the Lung Health Check pilot was able to “quadruple” early diagnosis rates by offering breath testing and on-the-spot scans around shopping areas in some of the city’s most deprived boroughs.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death and biggest cause of premature death in Manchester, the Lung Health Check programme wrote to patients aged 55 to 74 with a history of smoking inviting them for a check at one of the pop-up, one-stop-shop sites.

In the course of the pilot, 2,500 people got scans, diagnosing one cancer case for every 33 patients screened. Critically, four out of five of these were at an early, more treatable, stage.

Today’s drive for diagnostics sees the scheme, which has already been expanded to cover all of Greater Manchester, introduced to other NHS “cancer alliance” regions, the North East and Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and London.

NHS England told The Independent that the new areas had yet to set the criteria for their programmes, so it couldn’t discuss the impact yet, but the initial pilot said expanding the scheme could potentially “save thousands of lives”.

Speaking at a War on Cancer event, run by The Economist, today, Mr Stevens will set out steps the health service is taking to improve its rates of early diagnosis.

This follows a report showing the NHS lags behind Europe on cancer diagnosis and treatment because of underinvestment in the sector.

Figures earlier this year showed more than 100,000 patients waited longer than the two-week standard for…

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