300 residents of Middleton at high risk of lung cancer will have a scan over two weeks in January at a mobile scanning unit in Asda’s car park thanks to Yorkshire Cancer Research.
The charity has funded the mobile unit which comes in three articulated lorries and contains a full size CT scanner as well as consulting rooms and even a staff kitchen. The focus is on identifying early stage lung cancers that can easily be treated, but other conditions are picked up as well and patients referred for appropriate treatment.
The Leeds Lung Health Check is a multi-million pound initiative developed in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council. Whilst the unit isn’t cheap, by going out to local centres such as Asda, it saves people having to go to St James’s or LGI for the scan and overcomes a major obstacle for people taking part in screening programmes.
Three local GP practices have identified patients who might be at risk of lung cancer. During their appointment at the unit they will undergo a lung function test and their blood will be tested for oxygen and carbon monoxide levels. Patients who are smokers are also offered smoking cessation advice and free products to help them quit.
Although no blood test exists for lung cancer, samples are being taken for research to see if they can find any correlation between patients with cancer and an indicator in their blood.
Identifying lung cancers early saves lives, as if the cancer develops it becomes incurable. It also saves the NHS money in the long term as patients don’t require expensive radio- and chemotherapies, hospital beds and end of life care.
The Lung Screening Unit has already visited the White Rose Shopping Centre and Elland Road and will continue to be seen around South Leeds. The effectiveness of the five year pilot programme will be fully evaluated, but the early results seem to be very positive.
Project lead Dr Mat Callister, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“The early signs from the Leeds Lung Health Check programme are really encouraging. People are responding in large numbers, with over 1,600 contacting our telephone line for the initial part of their health check after receiving an invitation in the post.
“334 people attended for health checks at the White Rose Centre and Elland Road, and a further 281 are booked in at Asda Middleton – our busiest month yet. The feedback from people attending the mobile units has been fantastic, with many commenting how convenient they found it to attend the community locations.”
So far, 62 patients with possible chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 10 patients with possible lung cancer have been referred for further investigations. A further six patients with other possible cancers have been referred for additional testing.
Charlotte Banks, Asda Middleton’s Community Champion said:
“All staff at Asda Middleton are happy to support such an important trial that will save lives.”
The Leeds Lung Health Check mobile unit, provided by leading mobile medical unit provider EMS Healthcare, will be based at Asda Middleton until Saturday 2 February. It will then move to Costco on Leathley Road in Hunslet.
Photo: Asda Middleton employees celebrate the arrival of the Leeds Lung Health Check with Dr Mat Callister (fourth from right) and the clinical research team.