Lung health check

Lung cancer is frequently diagnosed at a later stage than other cancers because often there are no signs or symptoms at an early stage.

The Targeted Lung Health Check programme is a new pilot scheme designed to identify signs of cancer at an early stage when it is much more treatable – ultimately saving move lives.

Lung health checks are currently available for people living in Southampton and Portsmouth. A lung health check is being offered to people between the ages of 55 and 74 who are current or former smokers. Those eligible will be sent a letter to invite them for the health check.

The lung heath check finds out how well your lungs are working and hopes to identify problems early. Most of the time no issue is found, but if cancer or an issue with your breathing or lungs is found early, treatment could be simpler and more successful.

For more information about the lung health checks, including who to contact in your area, follow the links at the bottom of this page.

What happens during the check?

There are two main stages to a targeted lung health check. The first is an initial assessment with a health professional and the second, if necessary, is a simple scan of the lungs.

Watch these videos to find out how it works. You can also read Jill’s story further down this page.

An overview to targeted lung health checks

Targeted lung health checks in Portsmouth

Initial assessment

  • If you are eligible, you will receive a letter inviting you for an initial lung health check. This will take place over the phone.
  • At the lung health check, you will be asked some questions about your breathing, overall lung health, lifestyle and family and medical history.
  • Measurements of your height and weight will be taken.

 

There are three possible results from your lung health check:

No problems found – the nurse may find nothing further to investigate and you will be discharged from the lung health check programme. We will write to your GP to tell them this.

Referral to your GP – if problem with your breathing or lung health are found, you might be referred to your GP. We will write to your GP so they know about the appointment.

Offered a scan of your lungs – whether you are offered a lung scan will depend on your chance of getting lung cancer now or in the future. We work out your risk from your lifestyle, medical and family history. The nurse will help you to choose whether the test is right for you. We will write to your GP so they know about the appointment.

Lung scan

  • The lung cancer scan uses a low-dose CT scanner to take a detailed picture of your lungs, to check for the early signs of lung cancer.
  • The appointment will last approximately 30 minutes and you’ll have a chance to ask the nurse any questions.
  • If your scan results come back with signs of anything concerning, you’ll be contacted with further information and referred for further tests and treatment.
  • When you are invited for your appointment, you will be told where you need to go.

Jill’s story

 

Jill is 68 and was diagnosed with lung cancer in September last year (2020).

Jill was invited for a lung health check as part of the Targeted Lung Health Check pilot being run at University Hospital Southampton and a mass was detected in her left lung.

Jill had no symptoms and despite smoking in the past, is a current non-smoker and before her diagnosis, was a very active lady.

On November 1st 2020, Jill went in for surgery to have the mass removed from her lung. The operation was a success, and Jill was so thankful for being clear of her cancer and that the months of recovery could now begin.

Fast forward to August 2021, and Jill is now back at work a few days a week. She has been through a round of chemotherapy and is recovering well.

After being diagnosed, Jill said she realised she had been more out of breath than usual in the past few months prior to her diagnosis, although she regularly went to Zumba classes and was generally fit and well as far as she was aware.

Jill is extremely grateful to the team at Southampton who invited her for her health check, and says she is forever thankful to her surgeon.

Her message to others who are invited for their lung health check is simple:

“Please don’t miss this chance to know for sure that your lungs are healthy. It could be the invitation that saves your life.”

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