In October 2023, the Lung Cancer Policy Network was pleased to join the British Thoracic Oncology Group’s third Essential Update event on lung cancer screening.
This year’s update was a particularly exciting opportunity to meet with representatives of the lung cancer research and patient communities across the UK, following the recent commitments to implement a national lung cancer screening programme in England, and to initiate pilots of the Lung Health Check programme in Wales.
From pilot to national programme
Throughout the day, speakers reflected on the successes of the Targeted Lung Health Check (TLHC) pilots and looked ahead to the expansion of the national screening programme in England. The latest data from the screening programmes in England demonstrated that the attendance and detection rates observed during pilot studies are now being replicated or exceeded in the expanded programmes.
It was fascinating to hear from representatives of the NHS Cancer Programme in England, who shared plans for achieving full implementation of the TLHC programme. The roadmap emphasised the importance of collaboration across the NHS to meet the ambitious goal of inviting everyone eligible for screening for their first scan by 2030.
Network member Professor David Baldwin also presented an update from the National Screening Committee on the development of quality standards for the TLHC programme. This will be an important cornerstone for ensuring the programme is meeting its targets for enrolment and earlier detection of lung cancer.
Addressing socioeconomic disparities in lung cancer through screening
Inequities in lung cancer incidence and outcomes are an important consideration as the four nations of the UK move forward with plans for lung cancer screening. Dr Samantha Quaife, Queen Mary University of London, presented some of the latest data from the SUMMIT study. Dr Quaife highlighted the importance of tailoring the levels of support provided to eligible individuals based on their personal needs (such as by inviting people to attend via letter or SMS), to better facilitate attendance in high-risk groups.
Throughout the day, we were reminded of the importance of continuing to generate political commitment to lung cancer screening across the UK. The earlier pilot studies, combined with the ongoing implementation of screening in England, provide many lessons that can be adapted and applied to the specific contexts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Looking ahead to emerging innovations in the early detection of lung cancer, it was inspiring to hear from many clinicians and researchers about how technology such as biomarker testing might in future be integrated into screening programmes.
We left the event energised as the UK moves towards an expanded lung cancer screening programme that is available to all those who are eligible. We look forward to the British Thoracic Oncology Group’s next Essential Update event on lung cancer screening and learning more about progress towards this goal.
What’s coming next?
We recently attended the FOKUS Patient Cancer Forum in Sweden and are excited to share a blog post highlighting the key outputs and our reflections from this event.
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