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Our role in Lung Health Checks

Early detection of lung cancer has been at the core of our charity since it was founded 1990. We are in full support of lung health checks and are working with NHS England, as well as a number of individual programmes to ensure as many people as possible take up the opportunity if invited.

National awareness campaign

Over 800 people have been diagnosed through the programmes so far, with 77% of cancers caught at stages 1 and 2 when it is easier to treat with curative intent. This is phenomenal and turns current early detection rates (approx. 25%) on their head.

However, despite the clear benefits of the checks, only 35% of people are making an appointment. Anecdotal feedback suggestions two main reasons for this:

  • The asymptomatic nature of the disease means people think they don’t need the check up because they feel fine
  • People invited are too frightened to find out if they have lung cancer and are under the belief that nothing can be done to successfully treat the disease.

In 2022, NHS England commissioned us to develop a two-phased campaign to overcome these primary hurdles and help improve uptake of the lung health checks.

Our in-house team, who are the brains behind such campaigns as Spot the Difference, Still Here and Like Me, aim to address and overcome these obstacles by creating a multifaceted educational marketing campaign that:

  • Challenges disease and symptom misconception.
  • Highlights the importance of early detection.
  • Provides accessible information about lung cancer and the TLHC programme.
  • Primes eligible participants to respond to invitations.

The campaigns aim to launch this year with toolkits available to all of the individual programmes to drive uptake and save more lives.

Community engagement

Supermarket event (left) | Eid in the Park, Birmingham event (right)

Since July 2021, we have been hosting a series of community engagement events to raise awareness of the programme, highlighting the benefits and encourage those eligible to take up the invitation. We also use the opportunity to promote lung health and raise awareness of signs and symptoms to those who aren’t eligible for a check.

These events are so important, particularly in addressing people fear of finding out. At every event, the team chats to someone who has received a letter and decided not to attend because they are too scared.

Lung health checks are in areas with the highest rates of lung cancer, so there is a high chance many people invited have experienced this disease first-hand. They are likely to have a lost a loved one to lung cancer and therefore have a very nihilistic perception about the disease.

Community engagement events give us an opportunity to talk about the reasons someone has decided not to attend a health check. We are able to personalise the advice we give, address a person’s concerns and worries, in a way a marketing campaign never could and, hopefully, provide the necessary encouragement to make an appointment that could save their life.

For more information on community engagement events and how we can support yours, please contact jan.davis@roycastle.org

Marketing support 

        

We are working with a number of individual programmes to improve awareness of the lung health checks by providing marketing and communications support.

This includes:

  • Running targeted social media campaigns
  • Producing informative, inspiring and regionalised videos
  • Developing helpful and encouraging information about the checks and what’s involved
  • Creating targeted toolkits for stakeholders, including GPs, pharmacies and local organisations, making it as easy as possible for them to highlight the programme in a concise and consistent way
  • Organise media coverage and interviews with local patients and healthcare professionals
  • Developing printed and online materials, such as posters and banners
  • Coordinate offline marketing campaigns throughout the local area, including bus stop and billboard advertising.

Adding to the evidence and driving change

Prior to the rollout of targeted lung health checks by NHS England, we funded a Lung Health MOT check in Nottingham in 2017 and 2018 to identify potential lung cancer patients before any symptoms appear.

Our pilot programme launched in Bulwell, Nottingham in January 2017. Patients in five Bulwell practices aged between 60 and 75 with a history of smoking were invited to attend a lung health check appointment by their GP. During the health check, patients were assessed. Any high risk patients were offered a low dose CT (LDCT) scan. The scan then identified if the patient has any nodules on their lungs.

In 2018, we funded a second stage of the pilot where we rolled out our lung health check to a population of 36,000 people.

The programme has diagnosed 11 cases of lung cancer, 64% of which were at early stage and patients were offered curative intent treatment. One of those people was Bill Simpson.

In a number of cases, CT scans revealed patients to have small nodules on their lungs. At the time, these nodules were not malignant. However, patients were put on surveillance and underwent interval CT scanning to monitor any growth or change. To date, two people have since gone on to be diagnosed with early stage lung cancer, whilst 10 remain on surveillance.

Our lung health check provided further evidence that CT screening for lung cancer works. Following the success of our pilot programme, we launched the Lets Roll campaign, calling for the implementation of lung health checks or lung cancer screening to be rolled out across the UK.