Targeted screening for lung cancer

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) is consulting on whether to recommend targeted screening for lung cancer in people aged 55 to 74, with a history of smoking. 

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the UK and the most common cancer worldwide. Around 38,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year in the UK - smoking is the most common cause. Other causes include passive smoking and exposure to certain gases and chemicals.

Consultation recommendations 

The UK NSC proposes: 

  • a quality assured, targeted screening programme for lung cancer in people aged 55 to 74, with a history of smoking, should be recommended in the UK 
  • implementation of screening for lung cancer should not be seen as an alternative to delivering high-quality stop smoking services across all age groups. Smoking cessation should be an integral part of the screening programme 
  • the lung cancer screening strategy being piloted by the NHSE Targeted Lung Health Check (TLHC) provides a feasible, practical and effective approach to implementation; this pathway includes: 
    • identifying and inviting – through GP records - ‘ever’ smokers aged 55 to 74 
    • assessing eligibility for low dose CT (LDCT) scan using a risk assessment tool 
    • offering a LDCT schedule, based on the baseline CT scans 
    • assessing CT scan results using guidance by the British Thoracic Society 
    • following NICE guidance for diagnosis and treatment of detected cancers 
    • providing smoking cessation advice to all participants in the programme 
  • it should carry out more work to consider the best approach to screening, considering issues, such as: 
    • whether re-screening people with a history of smoking - who are not eligible for LDCT - should be part of the overall screening strategy 
    • which risk assessment tool or combination of tools should be used to maximise efficiency in the screening programme 
    • further refinement of the LDCT schedule for those with negative scans 
    • how the consequences of incidental findings from screening might be evaluated 
    • inequalities issues. 

Get involved 

Your views will help the committee consider these recommendations. UK NSC consultations provide an opportunity for people to: 

  • give their views on screening for the condition being reviewed and, on the quality and accuracy of the supporting documentation 
  • draw attention any aspects of the documents, which they don’t agree with
  • highlight potential inconsistencies in the way the evidence has been interpreted
  • highlight any questions or evidence which may have been missed by the documents and which may contribute to the recommendation or its revision 
  • suggest amendments to important errors in the wording of the documents. 

The consultation is running until 8 June 2022. More information can be found on the government's screening consultation website

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