'Long way to go' as Welsh Government commits to 'scoping out' lung cancer screening

Credit: PA/ ITV

A commitment to "scoping out" a lung cancer screening programme for Wales has been cautiously welcomed by charities, but some have said "there is still a long way to go".

Cancer Research UK has launched a petition calling for targeted lung cancer screening of people aged 55-74 who are at a higher risk of lung cancer.

It follows a recommendation by the UK National Screening Committee, which the Welsh Government has accepted with Public Health Wales "scoping how this could be delivered in Wales".

But the charity's public affairs manager for Wales, Simon Scheeres said: "There's a large gap between implementation and scoping".

A pilot in north Rhondda is identifying patients between the ages of 60-74 who smoke or have smoked in the past. Credit: PA

He added: "We know that the Welsh Government agrees with this screening in principle, we're really keen to turn this into a reality which is why we've launched the petition," Simon Scheeres said.

"In England there have been upwards of 200,000 scans of this screening.

"Currently we only have a small pilot programme in Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board. It's brilliant, but we really want to see this scaled up and rolled out through the rest of Wales."

The pilot programme currently underway in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board area is aiming to offer a lung screening scan to around 500 patients.

Cancer Research UK hopes its petition will garner enough signatures to trigger a debate on the issue at the Senedd. Credit: PA

GPs in north Rhondda are identifying patients between the ages of 60-74 who smoke or have smoked in the past.

If it was Wales-wide, Cancer Research UK analysis estimates that if just 50% of people invited to have a lung cancer screening took part, around 1,000 lives could be saved over the next decade.

Lung cancer incidence by stage at diagnosis in Wales out of those with a known stage at diagnosis

"Long-term lung cancer survival in the UK isn’t much higher than it was 50 years ago," Mr Scheeres added.

"This is unacceptable when evidence shows that earlier diagnosis through targeted lung cancer screening can potentially help hundreds of people live longer healthier lives."

Cancer Research UK hopes its petition will garner enough signatures to trigger a debate on the issue at the Senedd.

Mr Scheeres' told ITV Wales how lung cancer has directly impacted his family.

"My grandad actually passed away from lung cancer in 2007 and I lost one of my own parents to this disease in 2015.

"Both were diagnosed at a later stage when the cancer had spread and I know that this is mirrored by many families across Wales as almost half of lung cancer patients are diagnosed at stage 4.

"This is one of the reasons why we've launched the petition - to highlight that there are things we can do to mitigate this toll."

1,900 people a year die from lung cancer in Wales according to Cancer Research UK Credit: PA

  • What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

The main symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • a cough that does not go away after 3 weeks

  • a long-standing cough that gets worse

  • chest infections that keep coming back

  • coughing up blood

  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing

  • persistent breathlessness

  • persistent tiredness or lack of energy

  • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

Tenovus Cancer Care also welcomed the Welsh Government's commitment on Monday.

It has campaigned for a national programme since the recommendations were made by The UK National Screening Committee last year.

Chief executive Judi Rhys said: "Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Wales and too many people die because of late diagnosis. Yet, despite its seriousness, a lung cancer diagnosis doesn't have to be a death sentence.

"When caught early, survivability is dramatically improved, and this has been demonstrated by overwhelming evidence.

"While this is a big step, there is still a long way to go. We lag way behind England, which has screened thousands of patients, detecting cancer at an earlier and far more treatable stage."

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