Lung cancer pilot scheme which has saved 17 lives in North Tyneside to be rolled out in Northumberland

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An early screening pilot scheme which has already saved 17 lives in North Tyneside is being rolled out to parts of Northumberland.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust introduced a screening pilot to detect lung cancer in its early stages after data showed that patients with certain risk-factors and living in more deprived areas were more likely to develop lung cancer.

Lung cancer does not usually cause noticeable symptoms until it has spread, meaning the outlook for the condition is not as good as many other types of cancer. Early diagnosis can make a big difference.

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David Cooper, consultant respiratory physician for Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Those with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), who are over 55 years of age and living in more deprived areas are more at risk of developing lung cancer. This causes a health inequality in our communities, so it was important for us to try to address this.

North Tyneside grandmother Barbara Short, back left, is among those who took part in a lung cancer pilot scheme.North Tyneside grandmother Barbara Short, back left, is among those who took part in a lung cancer pilot scheme.
North Tyneside grandmother Barbara Short, back left, is among those who took part in a lung cancer pilot scheme.

“As part of the pilot, we initially worked with five GP practices in Wallsend to invite patients most at risk for early screening.

“420 patients accepted our offer of early screening and, from those scanned, we found 18 cancers, 17 of which were in the early stages and able to receive curative treatment.

“We’re delighted with the results and hope that those who are eligible will take up the offer of early screening going forward.”

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The screening pilot was developed in partnership with North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board and North Tyneside Council public health team.

Barbara Short, a 69-year-old grandmother of two, is one of the patients to have received life-saving treatment as part of the pilot.

She said: “I had no idea that I might have had lung cancer. I was invited along for early screening because I’m an ex-smoker and have COPD, so I thought ‘why not?’.

“I wasn’t completely shocked when the scans and biopsy showed that I had lung cancer after I had smoked for so many years. When you hear those words, you imagine the worst but I’m a positive person and all I could think is that I want to watch my grandchildren grow up.

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“I had surgery to remove the cancer and the care I received was outstanding. I feel so grateful that my cancer was caught early. I dread to think what might’ve happened if I hadn’t accepted the offer of an early scan.

“I feel great now and thank my lucky stars every day that I get to spend more time with my family and watch my grandchildren grow up. I don’t take a second for granted and will appreciate Christmas with my loved ones all the more this year.”

Results from the North Tyneside pilot show a detection rate of 4.3%, higher than the international average of 3%.

Funding to roll out the screening programme more widely has now been secured from Northumberland County Council.

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It is expected that 1400 patients will be invited for early screening over the next two years. The trust encourages anyone who receives an invite for early screening to attend.

If you have concerns about your health or are displaying any symptoms of lung cancer, please speak to your GP as soon as possible.

For more information on the lung cancer early screening pilot visit