Nearly 2,000 lung cancer patients may be missing out on life-saving surgery

New data recently published on Cancer Research UK’s local cancer statistics website ( has revealed that 1,800 non small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients in England may be missing out on life-saving surgery every year.  Alarmingly, nearly half of these patients are not having operations despite receiving an early stage diagnosis – which is when surgery is more likely to be successful.

According to the National Lung Cancer Audit 2013, 4,500 people with NSCLC had major surgery last year. Experts believe that surgery is responsible for around half of the cases where cancer is cured – and plays a significant role in improving lung cancer survival.

It is important to note that surgery may not always be appropriate for every patient, for example, if the cancer has already spread, the patient decides they don’t want to undergo surgery, or if the patient is too unwell to undergo an operation. However, previous research has suggested that some older patients who are eligible for surgery are being overlooked because of their age.

Lung cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat and it is vital that we remove any barriers so that those patients who might benefit from surgery are given this option. 

Ahead of next year’s General Election, Cancer Research UK has launched a new campaign ‘Cross Cancer Out’ ( calling on all political parties to make access to treatment a key priority if they are serious about improving cancer care and aspiring to world class cancer survival rates.

The campaign will focus on a number of key commitments aimed at improving cancer survival in the UK. These include equal access to innovative radiotherapy, surgery and effective cancer drugs – including new targeted therapies; and continued support for campaigns to raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer in order to drive earlier diagnosis.

We hope parliamentarians get behind our campaign and help provide lung cancer patients with the treatment and care they deserve.

Emma Greenwood

Head of Policy Development

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is a member of the UK Lung Cancer Coalition.