Portsmouth Royal Navy veteran shares his story after life-saving free Lung Health Check

It has saved my life.

Those are the words of 74-year-old John Rochester from Portsmouth who was diagnosed with lung cancer in the summer following a free Lung Health Check from Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust.

The Royal Navy veteran, who smoked for nearly four decades, had surgery to remove the lung cancer and is now back to his gardening.

John said: “It really is amazing how quick it has all been sorted. I got the letter in the summer inviting me to the free Lung Health Check at the Rodney Road Centre in Fratton, then I had a follow up scan and was told I had lung cancer.

“I had surgery and I have been told I won’t need any follow up treatment.

“The free Lung Health Check has saved my life.”

John is among more than 8,000 former and current smokers, aged 55 to 74, in Portsmouth that so far have been invited to the Lung Health Check programme in a drive to improve earlier diagnosis of lung cancer in the city and save more lives.

Of those that have been diagnosed with lung cancer, following their free Lung Health Check, 80% have been diagnosed in Stage 1 and 2 when treatment is simpler and more effective.

Lung Cancer lead and Respiratory Consultant at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, Dr Alex Hicks said: “This is such a fantastic programme because we can identify lung cancer at an earlier point and offer a cure.

“In my clinics before the programme, I would see only 30% of cases where I could offer that patient a cure, with this programme I can offer 80% of patients a cure which is a complete game changer.”

John wanted to share his story to encourage Portsmouth residents to take up the offer of the free Lung Health Check.

More than a quarter of those who have been invited already have not responded or opted out of the programme.

John said: “I would really encourage anyone who gets offered this check to take it up because it can save your life.

“I have been telling my neighbours and anyone who walks past me while I am gardening to go because it is so important. People never think it will be them, but it can be and it is better that it is caught early.”

If you have missed your free Lung Health Check appointment or think you should have received an invite letter, please call the team on 02392 282625.

Clinical Director, Portsmouth Place of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, Dr Linda Collie, added: “We would really encourage people to get their free Lung Health Check and get back in touch with the team if you have missed your appointment or invite because it really can save your life.”

More than 23,000 people in Portsmouth will be offered the check over the next two years.

The city was chosen to be part of the NHS England pilot programme due to its high incidence rate of lung cancer, with nearly two thirds of cases presenting at a late stage.

The programme is expected to roll out nationally by 2025 – 26.

For more information, please visit www.porthosp.nhs.uk/lunghealthcheck