RESIDENTS who have a long history of smoking will be targeted through a Barnsley GP-run scheme which sets out to detect lung cancer - the most prevalent of all cancers diagnosed in the town - earlier in a bid to save lives.

People in Barnsley aged 55 to 74 who smoke or used to smoke and are registered with a Barnsley GP will be invited by letter for a free lung Health check from later this month.

The programme - commissioned by the NHS but rolled out via Barnsley GPs - will make its way to different neighbourhoods across the borough to identify any lung problems early, enabling earlier cancer diagnoses, and improving survival rates.

Mobile scanning units will be visiting the Dearne in the coming weeks and will move to different sites across Barnsley until March next year.

In the Barnsley area, there were 1,333 cancers diagnosed in 2021 according to latest figures - 193 fewer than the year before, when there were 1,526 diagnoses.

Of those that were diagnosed, lung cancer was the most common, accounting for 15.9 per cent, followed by breast (14.6 per cent) and prostate (11.9 per cent) cancer.

Dr Sahar Awadallah, Barnsley’s cancer lead, said: “Local GPs, including me, are urging those invited to utilise this free screening service, as problems could start before a person notices anything of concern.

“Lung cancer often has no or few symptoms until a much later stage, so, if it is caught earlier, treatment could be more successful.

“Screening absolutely saves lives.”

The checks will be a two-stage process in which lung health is assessed, starting with an initial phone call before a respiratory nurse conducts an assessment with the person.

If identified as someone with a higher chance of developing lung cancer, they will be invited to have a scan that will take a detailed image of their chest and, if a problem is found, they will be referred for treatment.

Not everyone will need a scan, but those that do will be invited to a mobile scanning unit in a convenient location in their local community.

The programme - already operating in Rotherham and Doncaster - has seen almost 18,000 checks carried out, with 148 lung cancer cases found.

Three-quarters were caught at an early stage and Dr Jason Page, clinical director for the programme, hopes the Barnsley roll-out will yield similar results.

“We are thrilled to be able to expand into Barnsley,” he told the Chronicle.

“The success of the programme in Doncaster has undoubtedly saved lives, and now we are able to start the work in Barnsley with the intention of saving more.

“We want to stress the importance of keeping your appointment when you are invited.

‘If you have received an invite, it is due to your increased risk of developing lung cancer or having other lung conditions, and this is an opportunity to get an early diagnosis and have a much better chance of survival.”