Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer.

Lung cancer does not usually cause noticeable symptoms until it's spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body. This means the outlook for the condition is not as good as many other types of cancer.

About 1 in 3 people with the condition live for at least 1 year after they're diagnosed and about 1 in 20 people live at least 10 years.

However, survival rates vary widely, depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. Early diagnosis can make a big difference. (

In the trust’s catchment areas (North Tyneside and Northumberland), the crude incidence rate is around 97.7 per 100,000 people.

Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are more likely to develop lung cancer and so the incidence rate of COPD was measured and found to be around 2.8%.

Looking at data we found that:

  • COPD rates are higher in the deprived areas of the trust’s catchment
  • COPD rates are higher in those over 55 years of age
  • COPD is much higher in men than women
  • Smokers are more likely to develop COPD.

What we did

We worked with North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, Wallsend and North Shields Primary Care Networks and North Tyneside Council public health team to start a pilot to find lung cancer in patients earlier to improve the outcomes.

We initially worked with five Wallsend GP practices to find patients that matched the criteria identified above. This has since expanded and has resulted in us scanning 420 patients.

What we found

Out of the 420 patients scanned, 18 cancers were picked up – this is a detection rate of 4.3%, higher than the international average of 3%. 

Of the 18 cases of cancers picked up, 17 were early stage lung cancer and able to have or have started curative treatment.

What’s next?

  • A national roll-out is planned (Cancer Alliance) however, the Northumbria area will not be screened in the near future. Therefore, to avoid treatable cancers being missed, the health inequalities programme board agreed that there is a need to roll this initiative out further, expanding to parts of Northumberland.
  • A programme manager, funded by Bright Northumbria, has been employed (click the box below to see her blog). This will help us to reduce the devastating impact of lung cancer which disproportionately affects our most deprived communities. We will invite approximately 1400 patients for early screening over the next two years.
  • We are in the process of producing a publication on the findings of the ‘Analysis of lung cancer referrals and diagnoses across Northumberland and North Tyneside’.
  • We will spread the word about the success of the pilot so far and encourage people to take up the offer of early screening through the media, social media and case studies.

Patient stories...


If you have any queries or would like to speak to someone about the pilot please email If you would prefer a response by telephone please remember to include your phone number in your email.