Cancer Research UK has called for more screening for lung cancer as a key means of reducing the number of people dying from the disease.
The charity has produced its own ‘manifesto’ in anticipation of a general election next year, in which it has issued a series of commitments concerning cancer care and research that it would like to see adopted by whoever forms a government after the votes are counted.
On the issue of screening, it said: “The UK Government should transform and optimise cancer screening programmes and accelerate the roll-out of the lung cancer screening programme in England.”
Such a measure could require more capacity for storing medical images to ensure it works efficiently, but the benefit could be to detect far more cases than at present.
While smoking numbers are falling and the government is raising the legal age for smoking by a year on an annual basis, screening could capture some unexpected cases of lung cancer, such as among those who do not smoke.
The BBC recently reported on such an instance, in which Lorraine Wingert-Scheeres from Pembrokeshire discussed how her father Jack Cordwell died from lung cancer despite giving up smoking 20 years earlier.
Cancer Research UK has argued that 2,400 more cases a year could be treated in Wales with early diagnosis thanks to more screening.
The Welsh government has said Public Health Wales is looking at how screening can be improved.
While the NHS is devolved in Wales, Cancer Research UK has said that work should be undertaken to overcome regional differences in treatment and early diagnosis, not least in different parts of England. It may be that a more comprehensive screening programme could do this.
Some cancers are already getting this sort of attention, with the government choosing International Men’s Day on November 19th to launch the biggest prostate cancer screening programme in decades.