The UK government has announced a lung cancer screening programme to aid in identifying cancer earlier and expediting its diagnosis.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay announced the programme.

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People between the ages of 55 and 74 years with a history of smoking will be analysed and invited for screenings and services to assist them to quit.

It is anticipated that the new screening programme will diagnose approximately 9,000 people with cancer each year, at a cost of £270m.

The scheme was unveiled after the success of the initial segment of NHS England’s targeted lung health check scheme. 76% of lung cancers in those tested were discovered at an earlier stage than would otherwise have been possible.

Prime Minister Sunak stated: “Rolling out screening to high-risk 55-74-year-olds will save lives by detecting up to 9,000 lung cancers a year at an early stage.

“The NHS has treated record numbers of cancer patients over the last two years, with cancer being diagnosed at an earlier stage more often and survival rates improving across almost all types of cancer.”

Anyone evaluated as being at high lung cancer risk receives a low-dose computer tomography scan.

By March 2025, the initial phase of the programme is anticipated to reach 40% of those eligible, with a goal of complete coverage by March 2030. The government plans to achieve a smoke-free England by the same year.