Lung Cancer survival rates in England must ‘Match the best in Europe’ say experts

England has one of the worst survival rates in Europe

Lung cancer survival rates in England should ‘match the best in Europe’ in order to save lives, insists a group of senior clinicians from the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) today (2st March 2015). The call comes in response to a request from NHS England’s new independent cancer taskforce for expert input into its forthcoming five-year plan.  

“Despite improvements in care over the last ten years, lung cancer survival rates in England still lag significantly behind other European countries,” says Dr Mick Peake, chair of the UKLCC’s Clinical Advisory Group and clinicallead, National Cancer Intelligence Network and National Lung Cancer Audit. “Lung cancer remains England’s biggest cancer killer – accounting for over 28,000 deaths.1

Currently, England ranks 26 out of 29 European countries in terms of lung cancer survival data – one of the worst in Europe – with only 8.8 percent of people still alive five years after diagnosis, compared to a European average of 13 percent.2

“This is primarily a result of late diagnosis and wide variation in patient experience and access to treatment across the country,” adds Dr Peake. “Tackling these challenges has been made harder by the recent NHS reorganisation, which removed advice and support to NHS lung cancer services, such as changes to the role and funding of cancer networks.”

As well as welcoming a commitment by the cancer taskforce to improving lung cancer survival rates in England, the UKLCC is also urging investment in cancer support functions and improved staffing levels across the lung cancer pathway, most specifically in lung cancer nurse specialists. It also wants sustained funding for national lung cancer awareness programmes and promoting greater support for clinical research.  

“We know over 3500 lives could be saved in the UK if survival rates for lung cancer were to match the best in Europe,” says Mr Richard Steyn, Chair of the UKLCC and Consultant Thoracic Surgeon and Associate Medical Director, Surgery, at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

The UKLCC has welcomed the formation of the new, independent cancer taskforce announced by NHS England in January 2015.  Its remit is to develop a five-year action plan for cancer services that will improve cancer survival rates and ultimately save thousands of lives.


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Please contact Lynsey Conway on 07778 304233

Note to editors

The UKLCC was founded in 2005 and is the UK’s largest multi-interest group in lung cancer.  Its membership includes leading lung cancer experts, senior NHS professionals, charities and healthcare companies.  Its charity members are the British Lung Foundation, Tenovus, Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, and Cancer Black Care.  Please visit more information and details of all the UKLCC partners.

The UKLCC and its members are committed to improving outcomes for lung cancer patients throughout the whole of the UK.  By working in partnership with policy-makers, service commissioners and providers, and healthcare professionals, to improve the collection of data on the performance of services and sharing examples of good practice, we hope to drive improvements in standards of care across the country


1.        Figures from Cancer Research UK accessed at:

2.        Cancer survival in Europe 1999-2007 by country and age: results of EUROCARE-5. December 2013.


3.        What if cancer survival in Britain were the same as in Europe: how many deaths are avoidable? British Journal of Cancer, 2009 Dec 3; 101 (S2): S115-S124. Accessed at: /


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