Mobile lung health checks launched in South Leeds

People at high risk of developing lung disease will have the chance to take part in a pioneering project funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research.

The launch of the Leeds Lung Health Check
Photo : Jonathan Pow/

About 7,000 people across the city who smoke or used to smoke will be invited for a special type of x-ray called a screening CT scan that can detect very early signs of lung cancer.

The Leeds Lung Health Check, a multi-million pound project developed in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council, will take place in a mobile unit based in supermarket car parks and shopping centres to make it more convenient for people to take part. The unit is currently at the White Rose Shopping Centre and will remain there until Saturday 17 November 2018.

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:

“Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Yorkshire. It is frequently diagnosed at a late stage when treatment options are more limited and survival rates are lower. Screening can help detect lung cancer before any signs or symptoms develop.

“As well as saving lives, this trial will provide vital evidence that may help the government decide how to introduce a national lung cancer screening programme in the UK.”

In 2016, 4,500 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in Yorkshire, and 3,340 people died from it. In some areas of Leeds, people are twice as likely to get lung cancer than the national average.

GPs will invite people who might be at risk of lung disease to take part in the lung health checks, which will also include a lung function test.

Dr Mat Callister, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, is leading the project. He estimates that more than 300 lung cancers will be detected during the four-year programme, allowing those patients to receive potentially life-saving treatment earlier.

Evidence from the US shows that 8 in 10 patients diagnosed with lung cancer by screening will be alive 10 years after diagnosis2, compared to just 1 in 10 for people diagnosed currently in the UK.

Dr Callister said:

“We’d like people to think of these checks as an MOT for their lungs. We’re all used to taking our cars to get checked each year to make sure the tyres and brakes are working fine. We’re doing the same thing with people’s lungs – checking lung function, oxygen levels and doing a special scan to look for early signs of lung cancer.

“We’re trying to find people who would otherwise arrive in our clinics in two or three years’ time with advanced cancer, and instead pick up their cancer at an early stage when we can cure their disease and save their lives.”

Dr Yvette Oade, Chief Medical Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“We hope this study will help us to provide the best diagnosis and treatment so that every person affected by cancer is assured of the best possible outcomes. Most lung cancers are caused by smoking, and Yorkshire has the highest rate of smoking in England. By focusing this screening study on communities where smoking prevalence is known to be high, it will help us to improve health inequalities.”

Richard Neal, Professor of Primary Care Oncology at the University of Leeds and a GP in the city, is leading the project for the University. Professor Neal said:

“This trial is likely to be a game-changer in how lung cancer is diagnosed for many people, as it gives us the chance to diagnose them at an early stage when effective treatments are available. GPs understand this, and that is why every practice in the parts of the city where we are doing this trial has signed up. That is quite remarkable.

“The University has a wealth of experience in running large scale health projects like this, and we will harness this knowledge to deliver the biggest possible benefits for people across the city. “

Steven Foster, General Manager at White Rose Shopping Centre, said:

“We’re so pleased to be a part of the Leeds Lung Health Check initiative. Lung cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage, and these screenings can help to save lives in our South Leeds community and beyond.  The screening unit is at White Rose from 6 – 17 November, and we look forward to seeing as many people there as possible.”

The screening unit, provided by leading mobile medical unit provider, EMS Healthcare, will be located at White Rose Shopping Centre from Monday 6 November, to Saturday 17 November. It will then move to Elland Road from Monday 10 December to Friday 21 December. Further locations will be confirmed in due course.