Initial report published Monday 26th June 2023, updated Tues 27th and Wed 28th June 

The UK government is implementing a targeted national lung cancer screening programme across England.

People aged 55-74 with a GP record including a history of smoking will be assessed and invited for screening.

Building on the success of the current lung screening pilots, which have already diagnosed over 2,000 cases of lung cancer at a 76% early detection rate, a national lung cancer screening programme is expected to detect as many as 9,000 people with cancer, deliver close to a million scans and provide treatment earlier each year. It could also help people improve their health and reduce their risk of cancer.

Two-yearly scans for those at risk

The programme, backed by a recommendation from the UK National Screening Committee, will use patient’s GP records to identify those eligible and invite them for screening. At an initial appointment, patients’ risk for lung cancer will be assessed, based on several factors, including their smoking history. Those considered to be at high risk will be invited for specialist scans every two years.

Announcement and reactions

Patient groups, charities and advocacy groups have all welcomed the news. Since its inception in 1990, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has campaigned for better early lung cancer detection; the deployment of a full, targeted national screening programme is the culmination of this work. Plans for the implementation of similar programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to be confirmed.

UK Health Minister Steve Barclay MP announced the implementation in the House of Commons.

See that announcement here. 

The full UK Government news release is here. 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also shared his thoughts on the announcement, while visiting a mobile NHS England CT scanner unit in Nottingham.

See that video clip here. 

Lung cancer advocate and campaigner Cathy Brokenshire welcomed the news. Her husband James Brokenshire MP died of lung cancer in October 2021, having dedicated his final years to advocating for lung cancer screening and improvements in early diagnosis and patient outcomes.

Cathy has taken up the cause, and given much of her own time to try to ensure far fewer families have to endure the same loss as her own. She is a trustee of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, working to raise awareness of the disease and it challenges. Cathy was joined in this interview by Rachel Avery, the charity’s Director of Marketing and Communications.

Click here to see the interview with Channel 5 News


Commenting on the programme and its potential benefits to the at-risk population, Dr Sammy Quaife, who has worked with the GLCC to help make the case for lung cancer screening, is clearly delighted. See video here.