Following recommendation by the UK National Screening Committee regarding the implementation of a targeted lung cancer screening program, when will Welsh Government implement this fully in Wales, rather than only carrying out a pilot programme?
In June the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) made a recommendation to introduce targeted lung cancer screening for people aged 55-74 years with a history of smoking. Part of the recommendation was that further modelling work is needed to help further refine the recommendation, address implementation challenges, and determine the optimum protocols and pathway for the implementation of screening across the UK. To help achieve this it was also recommended that a UK Lung Task Group should be established to help oversee the details. It is likely to be several years before a screening programme can be fully implemented across the UK, however, my officials are already working with UK counterparts and Public Health Wales to understand how this could best be implemented in Wales. The first meeting of the Lung Task Group is scheduled for December 2022.
The UK NSC recommendation also stated that implementation of screening for lung cancer should not be seen as an alternative to the delivery of high-quality smoking cessation services across all age groups and that smoking cessation should be an integral part of the screening programme. The main cause of lung cancer is smoking. Smoking is extremely harmful and damaging to health and it is our aim to support those trying to quit for good. Specialist front-line smoking cessation services are organised, planned and managed by health boards. Our NHS smoking cessation service, Help Me Quit, is available to support smokers on their quit journey.
Screening is for people without symptoms but at higher risk of developing cancer. People who are concerned that they may have symptoms of cancer, such as a continuous cough, should not delay in seeking advice from their GP.