Free NHS lung health check finds cancerous tumour in Pendle woman’s kidney

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A Pendle woman says the NHS Targeted Lung Health Check saved her life after the free check found she had a 10-centimetre cancerous tumour – but in her kidney.

Marie Ellis, 64, from Barnoldswick, has since had surgery to remove her left kidney after scans revealed the tumour had been growing for around a year. Marie, who had no symptoms and describes herself as being 'as fit as a butcher’s dog', was invited to take part in the free TLHC.

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The checks are currently being offered to people in Pendle who are former or current smokers and aged between 55 and 74 as part of a drive to detect illnesses such as lung cancer and other conditions, earlier. A social smoker since she was a teenager, Marie quit smoking nine years ago and was surprised to receive an invitation.

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Marie EllisMarie Ellis
Marie Ellis

She said: “I had no symptoms and felt well but it was with the NHS and free, so I accepted. I almost didn’t go to the scan because it was snowing but I am so glad I did. I was shocked when the doctors told me the scan had found a 10cm mass, not in my lungs but in my kidney. I couldn’t believe it.”

Fortunately, further investigations confirmed that the cancer hadn’t spread and Marie had an operation to remove the kidney at Royal Blackburn Hospital. She is now recovering well.

Marie added: “In the last year, my husband and brother-in-law have both been diagnosed with prostate cancer and now I’ve had a cancerous tumour on my kidney. We have all found out by attending free NHS health checks and I can’t thank the NHS enough.

“The team moved so fast once they knew there was a problem. My lungs are fine but thank goodness the scan spotted the problem in my kidney. I’m on a mission to make sure people say yes if invited for this free lung health check because it saves lives.”

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Described as an MOT for your lungs, more than 64,500 people in Lancashire and South Cumbria have already benefited from a TLHC, with some receiving life-saving treatment for conditions that may have otherwise gone undiagnosed. The programme has been carried out in stages, first in Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen, Rossendale, Hyndburn and Burnley before coming to Pendle in autumn 2023.

The lung health check takes place in two stages. The first is an initial phone assessment with a specially trained healthcare professional. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they are offered a low-dose CT scan of the lungs, which is highly effective in detecting lung cancer at early stages, often when there are no symptoms. The CT scanner is in a community location – in Pendle it is at Asda in Colne.

Dr John Howells, clinical director for Targeted Lung Health Checks in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “Almost 11,500 people will be invited to a lung health check in Pendle - indeed many have taken up the offer already due to the valuable peace of mind a check can provide. So, if you are contacted by a member of the team offering you a lung health check, please say yes. Early diagnosis has the potential to save lives.”

For more information on the TLHC programme, visit