'Lung cancer screening came too late to save my mum'

Cancer Research UK said such a programme could save 2,300 lives in the next decade.

Woman who lost mother to lung cancer backs charity call for screening programme Kelsey Mackay/PA via PA Media

A woman who lost her mother to lung cancer is backing calls for a national screening programme in Scotland, which a charity believes could save thousands of lives.

New statistics published by Cancer Research UK indicate that thousands of deaths from lung cancer in Scotland could be avoided if a national screening programme for the disease were to be introduced.

The new analysis estimates at least 2,300 lives could be saved from lung cancer over the next decade, as targeted screening, for those most at risk, could see 4,000 more patients diagnosed with the disease at an early stage when it is most treatable.

Cancer Research UK says the figures highlight the urgent need for the introduction of a national targeted lung cancer screening programme as part of the Scottish Government’s 10-year cancer strategy.

Kelsey Mackay, 31, is backing the call for targeted lung cancer screening to be introduced in Scotland.

Her mother, Christine Livingstone, who smoked all her adult life, was just 52 when she died from the disease at St John’s Hospital, West Lothian, on September 19, 2013.

Ms Mackay, of Armadale, West Lothian, said: “Lung cancer screening could save lives but it has come too late for my mum.

“The earlier cancer is detected the more successful the outcome is likely to be.

“I wish things could have turned out differently for my family. Mum was my best friend and I miss her every day.”

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in Scotland, claiming about 4,000 lives a year, the charity said.

The lung cancer death rate is also three times higher among those who live in Scotland’s most deprived areas, compared with those in the least deprived areas.

The UK National Screening Committee has recommended that all UK nations move towards implementing lung cancer screening to target those considered to be of high risk of developing lung cancer – people aged between 55 and 74 who either smoke or used to smoke.

Cancer Research UK chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “Lung cancer is a tragedy for Scotland. More people die of lung cancer in Scotland than any other type of cancer. It is devastating for families and hits those who live in Scotland’s poorest communities very hard.

“A comprehensive commitment by the Scottish Government to implement a fully-funded national targeted lung cancer screening programme is a real chance to reduce the toll of lung cancer on Scots.

“Lung screening matters because it means more people can be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

“There have been big improvements in how we diagnose and treat other forms of cancer, but long-term lung cancer survival in the UK isn’t much higher than it was 50 years ago.

“This is unacceptable when evidence shows that earlier diagnosis through targeted lung cancer screening can potentially help thousands of people live longer healthier lives.”

Lung screening involves having an assessment with a health professional to find out about an individual’s lung cancer risk.

If this shows they are at higher risk of lung cancer they will be invited to have a low-dose CT scan to take a detailed picture of the lungs.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We welcome the recommendation from the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) for all four UK nations to move forward with introducing targeted screening for lung cancer in adults aged 55-74 with a history of smoking.

“We note that the UK NSC also acknowledges the significant complexities that must be worked through ahead of implementation.

“We have established a Scottish Expert Advisory Group, in collaboration with National Screening Oversight (NSO), which will consider how the recommendation can best be taken forward.

“Furthermore we have agreed further funding of a one-year extension of the University of Edinburgh’s feasibility study, LungScot, into targeted lung health checks for high risk individuals.”

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