Sharing good practice 'critical' to UK lung cancer survival say experts
Sharing good practice and innovation will lead to better outcomes and improved survival for UK lung cancer patients, says a new report published today (12 February 2024) by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC).
Called Driving Improvements in UK Lung Cancer - Utilising Good Practice and Innovation to Deliver Optimal Care and Outcomes,1 the report is calling on all those responsible for caring for people with lung cancer, to consider how they can take steps to improve the quality and outcomes of their services.
“Despite significant improvements in the staging and treatment of the disease in recent years, there are still wide variations and inequalities in access to lung cancer treatments and care - both between, and within, each of the four UK nations,” says Robert Rintoul, Professor of Thoracic Oncology, Cambridge, and Clinical Lead for the UKLCC.
Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer2 and disproportionately affects those from deprived areas. Currently, there is up to a threefold (11-32%) variation in people undergoing surgery for lung cancer across England and Wales3 – and five-year survival rates across all UK nations lag behind other European countries.4 However, lung cancer can be cured if diagnosed early enough.
“Learning from others, and adapting good practice to local needs, is critical to improving the quality of services, reducing inequalities, and saving more lives from this terrible disease,” adds Professor Rintoul.
The report focuses on three key priority areas for driving service improvement and better outcomes – and spotlights a selection of local and national initiatives which have helped to reduce waiting times; led to faster diagnosis; and improved access to the best-available treatments.
- Reducing inequalities in access to optimal and timely care e.g. introduction of a Single Queue Diagnostics System to share diagnostic capacity across Great Manchester has reduced waiting times for Endobronchial Ultrasound Services (EBUS) from a median of 18 to five days.
- Achieving universal access to molecular diagnostics e.g. sharing of an existing local transport service for HPV testing in Torbay and Devon had led to a reduction in turnaround times for lung cancer genomic test samples of five days.
- Optimising the impact of lung cancer screening e.g. investigating the reasons why people do, and crucially do not, engage with lung screening, has helped Stoke-on-Trent’s Targeted Lung Health Check Programme to adapt its communications strategies and obtain a greater understanding of local health inequalities.
The report also makes a series of practical recommendations to help influence change including holding more meetings at a national, regional, and local level - to promote the exchange of ideas - and looking beyond medical and surgical services where quality could be improved, or time and resource can be freed up.
“We will never change anything if we don’t learn from others and share what’s working well,” says Professor Mick Peake, Chair of the UKLCC. “We challenge those reading our report to consider how they can drive improvements in their own area. Patients should expect nothing less than access to consistent, high-quality care, and best possible survival chances - whoever they are and wherever they live.”
Notes to editors:
About the report
The report is based on the contents of a solutions based, UKLCC Conference, entitled ‘Driving Improvements in Lung Cancer Care’ which took place in London on 10th November 2023 and was attended by key opinion leaders and delegates from across the UK.
About lung cancer
Lung cancer has consistently been the UK’s biggest cancer killer with nearly 35,000 people dying each year. It accounts for more than a fifth of all UK cancer deaths (21%)2- and lung cancer in never smokers is the eighth most common cause of cancer-related death in the UK.5 Five-year UK lung cancer survival rates compare poorly with comparable European countries (16.2%)4- and over one-third (35%) of people with lung cancer are diagnosed by emergency admission to hospital in England.3 However, it can be cured if diagnosed early enough.
About the UKLCC
The UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) is the UK’s largest multi-interest group in lung cancer. It was set up in 2005 with the founding ambition to tackle poor lung cancer survival outcomes and, specifically, to double five-year survival by 2015, which was effectively achieved. It is now looking to redouble five-year survival to 25 percent by 2025. The UKLCC’s membership includes leading lung cancer experts, senior NHS professionals, charities, and healthcare companies with an interest in fighting lung cancer (who have no. For more information about our work and members, visit: www.uklcc.org.uk
- Driving Improvements in UK Lung Cancer - Utilising Good Practice and Innovation to Deliver Optimal Care and Outcomes, UK Lung Cancer Coalition, 12 February 2024. Available at: www.uklcc.org.uk/our-reports
- Cancer Research UK Statistics. Accessed January 2024 https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/lung-cancer#heading-One
- National Lung Cancer Audit 2023: https://www.lungcanceraudit.org.uk/content/uploads/2023/04/NLCA-State-of-the-Nation-2023-Version-2-amended-July-2023.pdf page 9 Accessed January 2024
- IHE, Comparator Report on Cancer in Europe 2019 – disease burden, costs and access to medicines, July 2019. https://ihe.se/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/IHE-Report-2019_7_.pdf Accessed January 2024.
- Lung cancer in never smokers: a hidden disease. Peake M et al. Accessed January 2024 at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0141076819843654