Lifescan's services specifically screen for 3 of the 4 main causes for death in the UK; heart disease (via a heart scan - calcium score); colon cancer (using virtual colonoscopy) and lung cancer. A combination of these scans (Lifescan Enhanced Check) can be selected, but only where a patient's medical history and risk factors would make it appropriate. Each scan is still done independently to ensure the lowest possible exposure to radiation.
All our scans are developed in accordance with recognised clinical research and many of our services are now being offered within the NHS – in particular virtual colonoscopy and calcium scoring. The Department of Health is also considering a lung cancer screening trial using low dose CT similar to those already underway in the US and Europe.
Lifescan has never offered body scans and strongly disagrees with such a service being offered, whether using CT or MRI. Lifescan does not offer screening scans for the head or limbs.
Lifescan operates under strict clinical guidelines, approved by the Department of Health. Radiography is the most regulated form of clinical care in the UK and only patients who meet strict booking criteria can make an appointment. Once a booking is made, a patient may still be rejected for elements of screening at the time of the appointment if any information from their detailed health questionnaire is contra-indicative.
Lifescan does not "screen" anyone under the age of 40, or under 45 for a virtual colonoscopy. Lifescan does not support annual "screening" of individuals with the use of CT equipment. Our standard "recall" is every five years. For those patients who currently smoke over 20 cigarettes per day, we recommend an annual lung scan (dose of 2.2 mSv) to ensure any damage from a continued smoking habit is closely monitored.
In order to reach as many people as possible, Lifescan advertises its services via various media sources. Our aim is to help reduce the number of deaths from heart disease, lung cancer and colon cancer through early diagnosis and therefore helping to ensure early access to appropriate treatment solutions.
Lifescan provides solutions to the demand for a more diagnostic approach to screening with the majority of those attending having a personal "trigger" from either recently diagnosed members of the family (or friends) who are subsequently seeking peace of mind.
Since launching its service in 2003, Lifescan has seen over 65,000 individuals (including GPs and health professionals). Of these; 16% were found to be at a higher than average risk of heart disease or stroke, 13% had signs of changes in their lungs and 9% were detected with the early but treatable signs of colon polyps (which can progress to cancer if left unchecked).
Lifescan has developed and continues to refine a set of low dose CT scanning protocols, which are used when offering CT health assessments. Our protocols and radiation exposures were subject to inspection by the Department of Health IR(ME)R Inspectorate in 2005 under the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposures) Regulations 2000. We also retain the services of an accredited Radiation Protection Adviser who acts as our Medical Physics Expert to provide advice on radiation dose.
We provide all our patients with detailed information at the time of booking their appointments and ensure that everyone is aware of the benefits and risks associated with CT scans and medical radiation.
Radiation is something we live with very day. During the course of a year we each receive, on average, a radiation dose of 2.2 mSv from natural sources. These sources include soil and rocks on the earth, radon gas from the decay of heavy elements and cosmic radiation from the sun and stars. In some parts of England, such as Cornwall, natural background can deliver a radiation dose of 7.5 mSv in a year. It is not unusual to compare the radiation dose from medical x-ray exposures to the time it would take for the same dose to be received from natural background radiation. So, for example, a heart scan will deliver an average radiation dose of 0.9 mSv. The same dose would be received from natural background radiation in about five months (or approximately six weeks for someone living in the a high natural background area in the UK).
The risk of fatal cancer being induced from medical exposures to ionising radiation is estimated from epidemiological studies of populations who were exposed to high levels of radiation - doses above 100 mSv (COMARE, 2007*). This leads to a theoretical risk of 1 in 20,000 per mSv, which is assumed to apply to doses below, as well as above, 100 mSv.
The average patient doses at thirteen Lifescan locations (surveyed in 2011) and the corresponding theoretical risks from the scans, together with the equivalence in years of natural background radiation are as follows:
Please note: the risk of developing a fatal cancer in the UK is 1 in 4 people (Cancer Research UK)
|Radiation dose**||Equivalent number of years background radiation
(average of 2.2 mSv per year in UK)
|Theoretical lifetime risk of developing fatal cancer from this radiation dose|
|Cardio Check||0.9 mSv||0.4 years||1 in 22,000 people|
|Lung Check||2.2 mSv||1 year||1 in 9,000 people|
|Cardio Lung Check||3.1 mSv||1.4 years||1 in 6,500 people|
|Colon Check||5.3 mSv||2.4 years||1 in 3,800 people|
|Lifescan Check||7.0 mSv||3.2 years||1 in 2,900 people|
Lifescan Enhanced Check
1 in 2,400 people
* Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) (2007). Twelfth Report. The impact of personally initiated X-ray computed tomography scanning for the health assessment of asymptomatic individuals. Health Protection Agency, December 2007, para 2.15.
**The International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP) is responsible for producing the theoretical sensitivity factors which are based on evidence they review. Since the concept of Effective Dose was first introduced the sensitivity factors have been revised twice, in 1990 and 2005. Lifescan has previously quoted using the 1990 doses but has now revised the doses in line with the 2005 review.