Former Lancashire police worker from Blackpool says lung check 'saved my life'

A Lancashire woman who required surgery for a stage two tumour from her left lung to save her life said she had no symptoms – and only found out in a targeted check.
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Jasmine Bradbury, 75 and from Blackpool, was invited as part of a drive to screen former or current smokers aged between 55 and 74 for lung cancer earlier. Despite being a long-time smoker, the former Lancashire Constabulary support worker had no symptoms but attended her NHS Targeted Lung Health Check (TLHC) at Blackpool Sports Centre when invited. Within weeks, Jasmine had been invited in for further tests and was having keyhole surgery to remove a stage 2 tumour from her left lung.

Jasmine said: “Thank goodness I didn’t say no when I was invited to take part. I might not be here now if I had. I had no symptoms and felt well so didn’t think there would be anything to worry about but after answering some simple questions, I was invited to the mobile CT scanner at Blackpool Sports Centre for a scan. The sports centre was a ten-minute walk from my house, so it was simple and quick, but they rang me soon after to say I required further tests. It all happened quickly after that and within weeks I was having keyhole surgery to remove a stage 2 tumour from my left lung. I did worry a lot about the operation but the staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful. The food was lovely too - especially the puddings with custard!”

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Described as an ‘MOT for your lungs’, the check is currently available to residents in Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen, and Rossendale who have been or are current smokers and aged between 55 and 74 in a bid to help diagnose more people with lung cancer earlier. The programme is also set to launch in Burnley in October. The lung health check takes place in two stages. The first is an initial phone assessment with a specially trained health care professional. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they are offered a low-dose CT scan of the lungs for further investigation.

Jasmine Bradbury's life was saved by a lung checkJasmine Bradbury's life was saved by a lung check
Jasmine Bradbury's life was saved by a lung check

Jasmine added: “Anything can be going on in our bodies, so for reassurance please say yes if you’re invited for a check. You have nothing to lose. I had no warning symptoms and yet there it was, growing inside me and I feel so lucky that they caught it and have given me a second chance. It saved my life.” Jasmine did not require further treatment but has a quarterly CT-scan to check her lungs are in good order.

The TLHC programme in England has seen more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of cancers caught at either stage one or two, giving patients a much better chance of beating the illness. This compares to less than a third of cancers caught at either stage one or two in 2018. Early diagnosis of lung cancer allows a much greater chance of long-term cure, compared to waiting for cancer to cause symptoms. Lancashire and South Cumbria have one of the highest mortality rates for lung cancer in England and is one of the first areas in the UK to be offered this chance to diagnose early lung cancer.

Mr Manoj Purohit, lead thoracic surgeon in Lancashire and South Cumbria and consultant at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals said: “The Targeted Lung Health Check programme is effective in detecting lung cancer at early stages, often when there are no symptoms. Early detection means we are able to offer curative lung cancer surgery with minimal access, keyhole surgery, and most patients will require no further treatment. The programme is making a difference, but we need more people to be like Jasmine and take part when invited. It is free and will help us catch issues sooner when we can save lives.”

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The programme is being rolled out in Burnley in October, with other areas of East Lancashire to follow. For more information on the Targeted Lung Health Check programme, please visit: https://lungcheckslsc.co.uk/

Cathie BowkerCathie Bowker
Cathie Bowker

MORE THAN 100 LIVES SAVED

The free NHS lung health checks for current and former smokers in Lancashire have saved more than100 lives since they launched last year. The first phase of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Targeted Lung Health Check (TLHC) programme has so far invited 48,000 eligible people who are current or former smokers aged between 55 and 74 to attend the ‘MOT for the lungs.’

The vital check has diagnosed 128 cases of lung cancer with more than two-thirds of cancers found at stage one and stage two when treatment is much more effective. This has also meant that 67 patients whose cancer was diagnosed at stage one or two, have been offered life-saving surgery at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The checks take place in two stages: a 15-minute telephone consultation with a nurse followed by a low-dose CT scan for those identified as being at risk of lung cancer. In Lancashire to date, 18,000 people have accepted the invitation to take part in the telephone assessment with 10,000 going on to have the CT scan.

Dr Neil Smith, GP clinical lead for cancer in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “Targeted Lung Health Checks are designed to help the NHS spot lung cancer and other issues early when the options for treatment are greater. That is exactly what they’ve done here in Lancashire - ensuring people receive life-saving treatment for conditions which may otherwise have gone undiagnosed. In Lancashire, we have one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the country and there is more work to do, but I would urge anyone who receives an invitation to say yes. Early diagnosis saves lives and lung health checks are making a difference.

Dr Neil SmithDr Neil Smith
Dr Neil Smith
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“A huge 69 per cent of the lung cancers found by the Targeted Lung Health Check were diagnosed early when our options for treatment are greater and the patient has a much better chance of survival. The national TLHC programme has diagnosed over 1,200 lung cancers with Lancashire and South Cumbria contributing approximately 10 per cent to those results. The TLHCs have been a remarkable success in our region, and the vast majority of people who agree to take part leave with a clean bill of health and valuable peace of mind. But for those who do require further treatment, we have a better chance if we find it early, often when there are no symptoms.”

More information on the Targeted Lung Health Check programme is available at: https://lungcheckslsc.co.uk/

CHRIS’S STORY

Chris Brown, 74, from Helmshore, jumped at the chance to take part in the free health check. Chris, who has not smoked a cigarette in over 40 years, was invited to take part in an initial phone assessment before being offered a low-dose CT scan which showed his lungs were in good working order. He said: “I haven’t smoked in decades, and I lead a very active life, swimming, walking and going to the gym. I did have a cyst in my lung over 20 years ago which resulted in part of my right lung being removed and I was concerned that I may develop further problems because of it. To have the opportunity to get my lungs checked was something I welcomed. To be given the all-clear is such a relief and has given me some much-needed reassurance. I would recommend anyone who is invited to take part to say yes. It might just save your life.”

Chris BowkerChris Bowker
Chris Bowker

CATHIE’S STORY

Retired Lancashire teacher Cathie Bowker had no signs or symptoms when a scan found she had cancer. Cathie, 70 and from from Hoddleston in Darwen, recently underwent surgery to remove the lower part of her right lung at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and is now on the mend. Cathie began smoking whilst studying at college in her early 20s and remembers it as something everyone did.

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She said: “I used to smoke at college when I was studying, mainly to ward off feeling hungry. It was something we all did, and I carried on smoking over 20 cigarettes a day for thirty years. However, I haven’t smoked in 20 years and I’ve always led an active lifestyle, with lots of walking and swimming. I had no symptoms whatsoever. I wasn’t short of breath and I didn’t have a cough, so I just never thought I had anything wrong with my lungs. Until I received the invitation to take part in the Targeted Lung Health Check it just wasn’t on my radar.

"When I first received the letter inviting me to take part in the Targeted Lung Health Check programme, I wasn’t going to say yes because I had no symptoms. I’m pleased my husband convinced me to have the phone conversation though because based on my answers to their questions, they asked me to come for a CT scan in the mobile CT scanner at Blackburn Rovers Football Club car park. It was so straightforward. I was able to park the car easily and was in and out in 30 minutes. From there, everything moved very quickly. I had the first scan at the end of April and by 25 May I was having keyhole surgery to remove my lower right lung.”

Cathie added: “I’m getting stronger, walking a couple of miles each day and eating well. I’m just glad I was asked to take part and that I said yes. I still require some further treatment, but I am so grateful to everyone who cared for me. I really feel like I’ve been given a second chance. A chance to spend more time with my grandsons who are three and one and the people who are dear to me. I hope more people say yes when they’re asked to take part in the Targeted Lung Health Check because it really does save lives.”