Second national report on mesothelioma: Liz Darlison from Mesothelioma UK explains its importance

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Liz Darlison, director of services at Mesothelioma UK, discusses the importance of the national mesothelioma audit.

Thursday 8 December 2016 saw the launch of the second national audit report into mesothelioma by the National Lung Cancer Audit (NLCA) team at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). Why is this report so important and what does it say?

Insight into the treatment and care received by mesothelioma patients across the country is vital if we are going to work toward a nationwide equitable service. With so many advances in our understanding of cancer and in the clinical trials and treatments available, it is vital that we keep fully abreast of the standard and patterns of care being received.

Mesothelioma UK funded the RCP to carry out research and produce this report, which aims to improve mesothelioma services and to achieve better outcomes for patients. This research is vitally important to help us all gain a national picture of mesothelioma in terms of its prevalence, treatment and outcomes.

Insight into the treatment and care received by mesothelioma patients across the country is vital if we are going to work toward a nationwide equitable service.

The report used data from over 2,000 patients diagnosed with mesothelioma in England during 2014. Findings and recommendations from the report will be used by trusts to develop and improve the care and treatment offered to patients.

Analysing the report

The report publishes data on patients, including demographics, referral pathways, investigation, treatment and outcomes. It reviews current practice to highlight regional variation in care standards.

One finding was an improvement from the previous report in the number of people diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma who survive for more than 1 year. However, overall survival rates remain poor, with only 43% of patients still alive 1 year after initial diagnosis.

Some of the report’s recommendations were that at least 90% of patients should be seen by a lung cancer nurse specialist and that, where appropriate, patients should be offered active treatment, including palliative chemotherapy.

Working together

Collection and review of these data are invaluable for highlighting the issues faced by patients, and the report has identified some encouraging patterns in survival rates, but also regional variations in quality of treatment. Mesothelioma UK considers this report to be just the start of what we hope will become a very productive collaboration that enables ongoing improvement in the treatment, care and – more importantly – the outcomes of those living with mesothelioma.

I’m hopeful that close collaboration with the RCP and other clinical experts will help us to reach our goals, so that we see an improvement not only in survival rates and treatment, but also in quicker diagnosis, availability of mesothelioma nurse specialists, patient information and access to clinical trials.

Liz Darlison, director of services at Mesothelioma UK