This is a photograph of Janet Cowley who is sitting on the sofa in her home. She is wearing a light blue jumper.

Feb 12th 2024

Cancer patient praises early screening programme

A mum-of-two has spoken about the importance of an NHS screening programme for lungs after revealing how an early test saved her life.

Janet Cowley, from West Bromwich, was diagnosed with cancer after she had a routine X-ray for a shoulder replacement which found a lesion on her lung.

After catching the disease early, doctors were able to operate to remove the organ and she is now on the road to recovery.

However, Janet is raising awareness of the Targeted Lung Health Checks (TLHC), after her brother was diagnosed with lung cancer at the same time – but sadly passed away after it was caught too late.

The TLHC is part of a national drive to screen current and past smokers, and those aged 55-74, to detect any problems with their lungs. In the Black Country, it’s currently being rolled out to patients who have a Sandwell GP by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust.

Those who fit the criteria will be sent out an invite to attend an appointment. If a CT scan is needed, it’s carried out on a mobile van which is in a convenient place, such as a supermarket car park or at a central location. The first cohort of patients will be seen at the Mecca Bingo, in Oldbury.  

Janet, aged 74, said: “I am one of the lucky ones, but my brother wasn’t. After my operation I was able to spend every waking hour with him as we found out he was incurable. I would sit with him at night, talking to him.”

She added: “I’ve often thought that I wouldn’t want to go for a scan because I wouldn’t want to know if anything was wrong. But now it’s happened to me and I’ve gone through the system and had my operation, I realise how lucky I am to come out of it alive. I just want people to know that if they’re offered anything at all to diagnose cancer or to check that they’re ok at any stage, they should accept every bit of help they get.

“If you get it early the more chance you have of surviving it, rather than just burying your head in the sand.”

Since the operation, Janet has a regular check up every six months.

Dr Arvind Rajasekaran, who has been a Respiratory Consultant at SWB NHS Trust for 17 years, said: “The check is like an MOT for your lungs and is carried out by specialist nurses.

“These checks can help to spot any problems early, often before you even notice that anything is wrong. If a problem with your breathing or lungs is found early, treatment could be simple and more successful. Your lungs work hard every minute so it’s really important that you get them checked out as you get older.

To find out more about the TLHCs, go to: https://www.swbh.nhs.uk/services/lung-health-checks/.

 


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