Long Term Conditons
Lung Health Checks
If you get an invite for a lung health check, our GP practice strongly recommends you take part in this free test as it can find lung disease earlier, before any symptoms, when it is easier to treat. Please don’t ignore it – early diagnosis saves lives.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the TLHC Programme
What is the TLHC programme?
It is the pilot of a new service for those aged 55 to 74 who have ever smoked. It is a process with two stages. Following an initial conversation with a health professional, there is, if needed, a simple CT scan, which can identify signs of cancer at an early stage when it is much more treatable. The programme started in 2019 and is now being extended to more areas of the country, with further areas added over time. The programme has been running in Cheshire and Merseyside since 2019, initially in Liverpool, Halton and Knowsley and it is now also in St Helens and south Sefton.
What is the aim of the programme?
The aim is to detect lung cancer and disease early so people can be treated sooner and more effectively – ultimately saving more lives. Lung cancer often has no symptoms in the earlier stages which can result in it not being found until the later stages when outcomes are less favourable.
What happens in a TLHC?
You will be invited to make an appointment with a specially trained nurse to assess their risk level of developing lung cancer, which includes questions about their smoking history and general health. If they are found to be at high risk of getting lung cancer, they will be invited to have a low dose CT scan so an image can be captured of their lungs and any issues identified which need further investigation or treatment. Patients may be referred on to secondary care or referred back to their GP practice.
Why are TLHCs only offered to smokers/ex-smokers in a certain age range?
They are offered to those most at risk of getting lung cancer. Data shows those between the age of 55 and 74 who currently or previously smoked are at a higher risk than others of getting lung cancer. If patients display any symptoms or have any concerns about their lung health they should, in the first instance, contact NHS 111, which may recommend contacting their GP practice.
Who is doing the scans?
Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital is carrying out the scans in a mobile scanning unit which will come around different areas of your borough over the next year or so. The scanner will be situated in a central location, such as a supermarket car park.
Why would a text or letter about this programme be sent to a patient if they’ve never smoked?
The NHS needs to make sure that everyone appropriate is included in the checks and no-one is missed. This could result in letters being sent to people who have never smoked. Please advise the patient that they should still call the appointment telephone number on the invitation to inform the programme of this.
Who cannot have a scan?
There are a number of reasons why a patient might not be offered a low dose CT scan and these include: they’re unable to lie flat; they’re unable to transfer onto the CT scanning bed without support, or with the support of somebody who attends the scan with them; they weigh more than 200kg/31.5 stones; they are not physically fit; they do not have capacity to consent to the CT scan and it is not in their best interests to have one.
Can I take someone along to the scan?
Yes, this may be possible. You should ask the TLHC team for further information. Contact details will be in their invitation letter or text link.
I feel fine so why should I go? You should attend a lung health check even if you feel well. Many people with early-stage lung cancer have no symptoms. One of the main aims of this programme is to detect lung cancer at the earliest opportunity when it is easier to treat.
Why are lung health checks only available to people who have smoked? People with a history of smoking are at a higher risk of lung disease or lung cancer than people who have never smoked.
I used to smoke so why haven’t I been invited? In order to be invited, your GP practice needs to be aware you have smoked and record it on your medical history.
I’m under 55, so why can’t I have a check? Your risk of lung cancer increases as you get older. The average age of a lung cancer patient is 72.
I’ve quit smoking, do I still need a check? Well done for successfully quitting smoking. In doing so, you have reduced your risk of getting lung cancer. However, it is always best to check your lungs are as healthy as they can be so you should still go for the check.
If you need more information?
Please follow the link below to the TLHC programme webpage:
Asthma & COPD
Muscular & Joints