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Lung cancer patients living for longer than ever

A new report, published by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), has found that more lung cancer patients are living for longer than ever, with 37% of patients alive at least 1 year after diagnosis compared to a rate of 31% in 2010.

The National Lung Cancer Audit (NLCA) 2017 annual report found that more cancers are being diagnosed at an earlier stage, with one in eight lung cancers found at the very earliest stage. It also highlighted a rise in diagnosis in patients aged over 70, the age group in which most lung cancer is present. There has been a rise of 5% more diagnoses in this age group since 2007.

The audit has for the first time identified the highest and lowest performing trusts from across England and Wales. This is intended to help improve learning across the nation and to reduce regional variance in lung cancer outcomes by looking into why top performing trusts are achieving better outputs than the lowest performing trusts. National performance remains at consistent levels when compared to previous years, but persisting variation across different individual organisations offers the opportunity to improve the care of and outcomes for lung cancer patients.

Paul Beckett, senior clinical lead for the National Lung Cancer Audit, said:

It is hugely encouraging to see that more lung cancer patients than ever are beating the disease and still alive years after initial diagnosis. It is important that patients are diagnosed as early as possible, and it is therefore really positive news to see there has been a rise in those being seen at the very first stage.

There is, however, still work to be done and I hope that through the work of this audit identifying practices that are performing well, other trusts will adopt best practice seen at high-performing hospitals so that patients do not suffer from a variance in care depending on where they live.

Read the full NLCA 2017 report, and follow the conversation on Twitter.  

Notes to editors

For more information or to arrange an interview please call Amarinder Cooner, RCP Care Quality Improvement Department communications adviser, on +44 (0)20 3075 2399.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) plays a leading role in the delivery of high‐quality patient care by setting standards of medical practice and promoting clinical excellence. The RCP provides physicians in over 30 medical specialties with education, training and support throughout their careers. As an independent charity representing over 34,000 fellows and members worldwide, the RCP advises and works with government, patients, allied healthcare professionals and the public to improve health and healthcare.

The Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland is the representative body for cardiothoracic surgery in Great Britain and Ireland and aims to continuously improve the quality of healthcare.

Partnership organisations include:

  • National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service – run by Public Health England and responsible for cancer registration that has been an integral part of the NHS for over 50 years.
  • Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation – a registered charity, whose mission is to beat lung cancer by funding innovative world-class research and aims through early detection and patient experience to make a significant impact on lung cancer for the benefit of patients.
  • British Thoracic Oncology Group – UK lung cancer and mesothelioma research group that aims to improve the care of patients with thoracic malignancies through multidisciplinary education and clinical and scientific research. 
  • University of Nottingham – research group that offers methodological and analytical support of the NLCA.
  • National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses - established in 1999 to provide networking and support to nurses specialising in the care of people with lung cancer.
  • National Specialist Advisory Group for lung cancer in Wales - provides all Wales clinical specialist advice on cancer in Wales.