Our new ten year report tracks progress in lung cancer services, treatment and outcomes across the UK

The UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) is today proud to publish Ten years on in lung cancer: the changing landscape of the UK’s biggest cancer killer.  This milestone report marks the ten-year anniversary of our formation and is the first-ever assessment of the progress in lung cancer services over the past decade – and across the four UK nations.

For the first time, this report evaluates the outcomes for lung cancer patients across the UK as a whole – setting a vision for the next ten years and highlighting the vital steps which must be taken to improve outcomes for lung cancer patients for the future.

Due to the efforts of governments, policy-makers and our own membership over recent years, it is important to acknowledge that, in general, lung cancer outcomes have improved across the UK in recent years. For example, in England, five-year survival rates have almost doubled from 2004 (9 per cent) to 2013 (16 per cent predicted).  This has a strong correlation with the increase in the number of surgical resections for lung cancer, from an average of 3,220 up to 2005 to 6,713 in 2013. 

However, despite this, lung cancer remains the UK’s biggest cancer killer.  Lung cancer accounts for more than one in five (22%) of all UK cancer cases in men and women, which is more than breast, bowel bladder and uterine cancer combined.  In 2012 alone, there were over 44,500 cases of lung cancer in the UK – and significant variations in care still exist.  For example, in England and Wales, the percentage of patients seen by a nurse specialist varies from 36 per cent to 100 per cent. In Scotland, anecdotal evidence suggests there is variation in access to radiotherapy services across the nation, and access to new medicines in Northern Ireland is often perceived to be poor among specialists in the field.

In addition, ten years on, the UK has some of the worst survival rates in Europe.  Currently: England ranks 26 out of 29 European countries in terms of five-year survival. Northern Ireland is ranked 19th; Scotland ranks 27th and Wales has the second worst five-year survival rate for lung cancer in Europe.

The UKLCC has welcomed efforts in recent years to prioritise lung cancer at a national level – but we still aren’t where we should be.  Therefore, in this report, we are making specific calls to action to the various UK governments in order to ensure that lung cancer continues to be spotlighted and that patients receive the very best care they deserve.

To see these calls and read a full copy of the report, click here: www.uklcc.org.uk

Mr Richard Steyn

Chair of the UK Lung Cancer Coalition

Consultant thoracic surgeon and Associate Medical Director, surgery, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust