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Car park cancer tests being extended. Early diagnosis essential says report.

CT scans offered to smokers in mobile units Credit: NHS

Potential cancer patients could be offered screening in shopping centre car parks in a bid to boost early diagnosis rates.

People will be offered lung cancer tests in community mobile screening units in a bid to catch their cancer early, NHS England will announce.

A pilot that took place in Manchester saw potential cancer patients invited for a lung health check.

People with a history of smoking aged 55 to 74 were invited for CT scans at mobile units - which were placed in shopping centre car parks or community hubs.

During the pilot, for every 33 people screened, one case of cancer was detected.

The pilot, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, was carried out on 2,500 people with a history of smoking.

During the trial, four in five of the cancers discovered were at stage one or stage two - or earlier in the disease progression.

Now NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has announced the Manchester scheme will be extended and also rolled out in three other areas.

NHS cancer care is the best it's ever been, with cancer survival increasing every year.

Over the next 18 months the NHS will be rolling out new mobile and home screening kits to detect cancers earlier, when they can be treated best.

– NHS England Chief Exec Simon Stevens speaking at War on Cancer event

This is great news. Early detection is key to improving cancer survival rates; it's working for breast, bowel and cervical cancer. Now it is time to finally focus on lung cancer. We know that when lung cancer is caught early, survival rates significantly improve so scanning high-risk patients means we are able to identify patients earlier and offer curative treatment.

– Paula Chadwick, chief executive at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

The rollout of this scheme is welcome news. By the time lung cancer causes symptoms it is usually too late for it to be cured. CT screening tests mean that it can be picked up at a much earlier stage.

– Dr Nick Hopkinson, honorary medical adviser for the British Lung Foundation

Surgery, while very complex, is the first choice of treatment for patients as it offers the best chance of survival.

"It is therefore hugely reassuring to see that operations are safe in both the short and medium term.

– Dr Paul Beckett, senior clinical lead for the RCP's National Lung Cancer Audit

Survival rates for patients a month and three months after having undergone such procedures have reached the best ever levels, according to the audit.

The report, from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), shows there were 5,936 lung cancer removal operations in English hospitals during the 2015 calendar year - an increase from 5,657 operations in 2014.

The RCP said this was a "record number of lung cancer operations" which means that the average lung cancer surgeon is now performing 49 operations each year.

It says a record 98.1% of patients were alive after 30 days following their operation and 96.3% were alive after 90 days.

One-year survival rates have been stable at almost 89%.

The audit found that consultants are now operating on an average of 49 patients each year - a rise from 30 cases per surgeon in 2012.

Almost half of the procedures were carried out using minimally invasive, or keyhole, techniques.

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