People who live in Doncaster aged from 55 to less than 75, who smoke or used to smoke, and have a Doncaster GP, will be offered a free NHS lung health check.

Run by specially-trained nurses, lung health checks aim to find out how well your lungs are working.

A lung health check can give you the reassurance that your lungs are healthy or can help find problems early – often before you notice anything is wrong. If lung conditions, or other problems with your breathing or lungs are found early, treatment could be simpler and more successful.

What is a Lung Health Check?

Lung health checks are completely free. Appointments are carried out over the telephone with a specialised nurse, lasting 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.

As part of your Lung Health Check, you may be offered a low dose CT scan. This is to check for early signs of lung cancer as well as other lung diseases. You will have plenty of time to talk to the nurse and ask any questions you may have.

If you are invited to have a low-dose CT scan, this will take place in a mobile unit at various locations across Doncaster. The CT scan only takes a few seconds to be done.

To learn more about how to book a lung health check visit Doncaster CCG's website where you will also find some Frequently Asked Questions.

When and where are Lung Health Checks happening?

From now until March 2022, mobile trucks will make their way across the Doncaster area in a bid to help detect lung cancer earlier, as well as identifying other lung conditions.

Doncaster is one of 10 areas nationally that has been chosen to implement Lung Health Checks due to the number of people in the area that have ever smoked. The programme will run for 12 months, with a second phase taking place to allow for any further scans and follow up appointments, making a total of three years.

The Lung Health Check programme could help improve lung cancer survival rates across the borough 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.

The Covid-19 secure mobile scanning trucks will move around Doncaster on a three-monthly basis and be parked at designated places in the:

  • South – including towns and villages, such as Rossington and Mexborough from March 2021 to mid-July 2021
  • North – including areas such as Bentley and Carcroft from July 2021 to
     September 2021
  • East – covering towns and villages, such as Thorne and Hatfield from October 2021 to December 2021
  • Central – including areas such as Intake and Cantley from December 2021 to March 2022.

Ashfield Medical will liaise with local practices ahead of roll out in each locality to identify all patients that are eligible – aged 55 to 74 years, 364 days, who have ever smoked.

An invitation letter will be sent to eligible patients, along with details of how to book onto a free Lung Health Check.

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, local GP and Clinical Chair, NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The Doncaster 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."

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