Cathy Brokenshire, the wife of the late MP James Brokenshire, has praised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for ‘prioritising lung cancer’ after he today visited the Targeted Lung Health Check in Sutton.
James Brokenshire MP, whom Mr Sunak served under in the Ministry of Housing, died of lung cancer last October. Since then, his wife Cathy has stepped up to further his call for lung cancer screening. She works closely with Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, the national lung cancer charity, of which she is now a trustee.
Last month, the National Screening Committee (NSC) recommended the introduction of targeted screening for lung cancer. This recommendation now lies with the four UK Health Departments to agree.
Mrs Brokenshire is hopeful that today’s visit will mark a step closer to the implementation of a national lung cancer screening programme.
She said: ‘’I’m delighted that the new Prime Minister has made it one of his first priorities to see for himself how Targeted Lung Health Checks can help save lives.
‘’Rishi Sunak worked closely with my husband earlier in his career, and I know he was fully aware of how important lung cancer care was to James. I’d love to see our new Prime Minister throw his full support behind the recent recommendation by the NSC that we should have a national lung cancer screening programme. That would be the fulfilment of James’s dream, and mine.
The evidence is there, and it’s clear – to save lives, we need to screen.’’Cathy Brokenshire
Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: “We are thrilled that the Prime Minister’s first public engagement in the role highlights this hugely important issue.
“With all the political unrest of recent months, it was our fear that the recommendation from the National Screening Committee would be overlooked.
“For too long lung cancer has been too low a priority, despite the fact that it affects thousands of lives every single year. The Government has spoken – often, and at great length – about the need for levelling up; today’s visit suggests that, finally, we may see action.”
Mr Sunak visited the lung diagnostic vehicle situated in the car park of the Sutton Cheam Tesco Extra, where those at the highest risk of developing lung cancer are invited for a low dose CT scan.
To date, over 1,200 people have been diagnosed with cancer through these screening pilots. Around three quarters of those diagnosed were detected at stages one and two, when the disease is most treatable with curative intent.
A national screening programme could significantly improve the earlier detection of lung cancer and save thousands of lives.