Lung cancer, whilst most frequently associated with smoking, can also be caused by a number of other factors. Statistics suggest that it is the most common cancer in the world, with around 39,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK.
A recent report from the Lung UK Cancer Coalition has suggested that, despite the increasing incidence of the disease, a lack of access to specialist teams and poor awareness mean that some patients are not receiving satisfactory care.
The Coalition was set up in November 2005 to raise awareness of the cancer and is made up of the UK’s leading lung cancer experts, senior NHS professionals, charities and healthcare companies. Their report suggests that, if more adequate care was given, one in ten deaths could be prevented. The report sets out 30 recommendations, described as ‘aspirational but hard hitting’, in an attempt to improve the care provided.
Earlier diagnosis is a key factor in tacking the survival rates of lung cancer sufferers and so one of the measures suggests increasing awareness of the disease and improving recognition of the symptoms. Patients should receive treatment from specialists in the field and there should be a faster, more efficient referral scheme when someone is suspected of having lung cancer. This would include increased coordination between GPs and treating hospitals, and for the diagnostic pathway to be refined, resulting in fewer, but more high value tests, which could provide the diagnosis and stage of the disease in one step. For all 30 recommendations, please click here.
The new health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, aims to improve survival rates associated with conditions such as cancer. With five year lung cancer survival rates below 9% in the UK, compared with 12.3% across Europe, it is hoped that the recommendations set out by the Coalition will have an impact for those suffering from lung cancer and create access to better care and an improvement in patient survival and recovery.