At only fourteen years old, Julie Williams, a resident of Wales, was paid in the form of cigarettes to do her mother’s ironing, a currency that normalised the habit from an early age.
Now at 67, the grandmother-of-three, who had smoked for more than fifty years of her life, was one of the first people in Wales to be offered a lung health check.
Reflecting on how times in the UK have changed, Williams said:
“Back then you’d go to the surgery and see the doctor smoking at his desk.”
The charity Tenovus have funded the pilot for 500 patients to be screened for early signs of cancer, an act that has encouraged the Welsh Government to consider how the programme could be delivered across all of Wales.
In an interview with the BBC Judi Rhys, Chief Executive of Tenovus, said:
“If we look at England, they’ve done upwards of 130,000 scans, so we’re way behind them.
“We need to get on, we need to make sure we make a commitment to rolling it out.
“Agreements in principle will not save lives, the longer we leave it the more chances there are of more people dying of what is essentially a preventable disease.”
At current, screenings are only available to detect breast, bowel, and cervical cancers in Wales, but the UK National Screening Committee has urged for targeted lung cancer screenings in addition.
In response, the Welsh Government have said:
“We are working with Public Health Wales to explore options and are keen to learn from the findings of the lung screening pilot.”
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