More than 2,200 people in high-risk communities have been newly identified as being at risk of life-threatening liver cancer, thanks to NHS roaming liver trucks across the country.
Under a major NHS drive to catch more cancers earlier and save more lives, 12 on-the-spot liver scanning trucks have been touring 18 areas of England. The risk of liver cancer is due to their cirrhosis or advanced fibrosis and they have been found during the last 15 months, since the scheme launched last year.
Latest data shows the roaming trucks have performed more than 26,500 hi-tech fibroscans and identified 2,204 people with cirrhosis or advanced fibrosis, a leading cause of liver cancer – between June 2022 and September 2023 – with the majority of those individuals referred on to further care.
The mobile trucks are visiting high-risk communities at GP practices, recovery services, food banks, diabetes clinics, sexual health clinics and homeless shelters to perform quick, non-invasive scans.
Checks are being offered in the community to adults with high levels of alcohol consumption, a current diagnosis or history of past viral hepatitis, or non-alcoholic liver disease, as these factors increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
NHS staff are already visiting at-risk communities as part of the Hepatitis C Elimination Programme; and it was expanded in June 2022 to include a liver health check involving an on-the-spot fibrosis scan which detects liver damage.
Around 6,200 people are diagnosed with liver cancer each year, but the number of cases has doubled over the past decade and is expected to continue to rise.
Professor Peter Johnson, NHS Clinical Director for Cancer, said: “We are seeing liver cancers increasing year on year, but finding them early gives the best chance of successful treatment, which is why we have set up this initiative that is having such a positive impact and making it easier for people who are at a higher risk of liver cancer or other organ damage to get life-saving checks.
“Bringing liver scans into the heart of communities has already helped us find thousands of people with liver damage that needs further monitoring, investigation, or treatment; and in the future, we expect to help tens of thousands more patients receive a diagnosis sooner.
“Lives are saved when cancers are caught early and when more people are referred for tests, which is why the NHS has put so much effort into early diagnosis in recent years, as well as increasing access to testing.”