Lung health checks will be available to more areas in South Yorkshire from July 2022.  People aged from 55 to 74 years, who smoke or used to smoke, and have a registered GP, will be offered a free NHS lung health check.

NHS Lung health checks are different to NHS health checks. Even if you've recently been for a health check, you should still consider attending your lung health check. 

Why are we offering people a free lung health check?

There are often no signs or systems or lung cancer at an early stage. As a result, sadly around 7 in 10 cancer patients are currently being diagnosed too late to be cured. Targeted Lung Health Checks help find problems early (often before you notice anything is wrong) and at a stage when treatment could be simpler and more successful - ultimately saving more lives. Most lung cancers grow slowly enough for them to be found at an early stage by a lung scan. 

The Lung Health Check programme could help improve lung cancer survival rates across the area with a recent study showing that checks such as these can potentially pick up changes earlier and reduce lung cancer deaths by around 26% in men and 40% in women. 

What is a Lung Health Check?

Lung health checks are completely free.

A lung health check is a two stage process in which we assess the health of your lungs:

You will have a phone call with a specialist nurse to evaluate your chances of developing lung cancer. Your telephone appointment will last approximately 20-30 minutes. The nurse will ask you some questions about your breathing and overall lung health. They will also ask you about your lifestyle, family and medical history. You do not need to do a breathing test; the nurse can get all the information they need from the questions. You will have plenty of time to talk to the nurse and ask any questions you may have.

If you are identified as someone who has a higher chance of developing lung cancer you'll be invited to have a low-dose CT scan. This is to check for early signs of lung cancer as well as other lung diseases. If you are invited to have a low-dose CT scan, this will take place in a mobile unit at various locations across your area. The CT scan only takes a few seconds to be done. The scan will take a detailed image of your lungs for us to review. If a problem is found you'll be referred on for treatment. 

When and where are Lung Health Checks happening?

From now until March 2026, mobile scanning units will make their way across the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw area in a bid to help detect lung cancer earlier, as well as identifying other lung conditions.

Doncaster was one of 10 areas nationally chosen to pilot Lung Health Checks due to the number of people in the area that have ever smoked.  The Doncaster programme commenced in March 2021 and Bassetlaw, Rotherham and Barnsley will soon follow suit bringing Lung Health Checks to their communities as follows:

  • Bassetlaw – July 2022 to September 2022
  • Rotherham – TBC 2022/2023
  • Barnsley – TBC 2022/2023

The lung health check discussion with the nurse will be by telephone. The  low-dose CT scans take place on the mobile scanning units which will move around the region as required. 

Ashfield Engage will send invitation letters to eligible patients, including details of your telephone appointment with a member of the Ashfield team to confirm if you are eligible for the programme. Your appointment for a lung health check with the nurse will then be confirmed with you. 

Why is it important to look after your lungs?

Your lungs work hard every day so you can breathe and they don’t get much rest. They carry oxygen from the air into your blood and release carbon dioxide from your blood into the air. Your body’s cells need this oxygen to work properly. Your lungs have a natural defence system to keep out dirt and germs but several things can damage this, meaning they can’t do their job as well.

There are lots of things that you can do to look after your lungs, which are just as important if you already have a lung condition, including:

  • being more active
  • eating a balanced diet
  • stopping smoking
  • making sure you have all your vaccinations if you are over 65 years old or have a long term condition
  • knowing the warning signs and symptoms of lung conditions including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) and lung cancer.

It’s also important to be able to spot when things might not quite be right. A persistent cough can be an early warning sign of lung disease. Other symptoms to look out for are feeling more breathless, wheezing, losing weight, coughing up blood or noticing chest pain. Don’t ignore or dismiss these symptoms; go and speak to your GP.

For lung cancer help and support visit the Roy Castle Foundation website.

Dr David Crichton, GP and Chief Medical Officer for South Yorkshire ICB said: “The Lung Health Check programme is a new, innovative way to help the earlier detection of lung disease, including cancer.

“Early detection not only allows earlier treatment and support for people, but also helps to improve their long term health outcomes. As a local GP, I would encourage all eligible patients to take up the offer."

Dr Jason Page, Clinical Director for the Doncaster TLHC programme said: “I am delighted that this programme continues to save lives across the area. Hundreds of people each month are attending their screening CT scans.

“The benefits of screening are clear to see. The programme is reducing the devastating impact that lung cancer has on hundreds of families across the borough.

“Lung cancer remains one of the most common cancers accounting for thousands of deaths a year in the UK. Because lung cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms at an early stage, it is frequently diagnosed late when treatment options are more limited and survival rates are lower, but if caught early, it’s much more treatable and the survival rate is much higher."

Less than a year ago Sandra from Rossington received a letter inviting her to take part in the Doncaster Lung Health Check.  She hadn’t experienced any symptoms of having a lung problem. However, due to her age and health background she was eligible for a check which identified a tumour on her lung.  Sandra underwent treatment and has made a complete recovery and has been given the ‘all clear’.  You can watch Sandra’s story here.

Sandra said: “You don’t expect to get cancer. You think you’re not going to get it, but you can. The doctors and nurses are fantastic, and they’re all working hard to make sure more people survive. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to take part in the Doncaster Lung Health Check.

"The sooner you get treatment the better. I say to people just go for it, you should always get checked. It could save your life."

A lung health check can give you reassurance that your lungs are healthy and can help identify problems early.

SYB Targeted Lung Health Checks Booklet

Targeted Lung Health Checks FAQs