UKLCC open letter to the next UK Government

To the next UK Government:  

Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer – with nearly 35,000 people dying from this devastating disease each year.1

In the UK, five-year UK survival rates compare poorly with comparable European countries1,2 – and around one-third (32%) of people with lung cancer are diagnosed by emergency admission to hospital (in England).3 Lung cancer disproportionately affects those from deprived areas and has the widest deprivation gap of all cancers.1,3

Yet, it can be cured if diagnosed early enough.

Therefore, we are calling for the next UK Government to commit to:

  • Equitable and timely access to optimal treatment and care. Currently, there are wide variations in access to the best possible care across the UK. Regardless of location, socioeconomic status, or background, it is imperative that all patients have access the same standards of care. This can be achieved by streamlining referral pathways, reducing waiting times, and promoting early diagnosis. In England and Wales, latest figures show waiting times from ‘Decision to Treat’ to the start of first treatment continue to get even longer.3  
  • Maximising access to Targeted Lung Health Checks - and ensuring the roll-out of a UK-wide lung cancer screening programme: Lung cancer is a rapidly fatal disease which requires early diagnosis. Without doubt, the approval of a national screening programme (in June 2023) will do more to improve lung cancer survival than any other single intervention. However, we must ensure that all those eligible (55–74-year-olds with a history of smoking) can access a lung check wherever they live in England4 – and that the screening programme is extended to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 
  • Universal and timely access to molecular diagnostics - and publication of genomic guidelines. Through molecular diagnostic testing we can now accurately define the make-up of tumours and treat them with a range of targeted and precision therapies. However, the turnaround times for molecular testing in some parts of the country is running to several weeks – and NHS funding restrictions prevent patients being treated with chemotherapy or immunotherapy while they wait.5 We need publication of standardised guidelines for those providing genomic testing and to ensure a maximum 14-day turnaround time for test results.6

The UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) is the country’s largest multi-interest group in lung cancer. Since 2005, we have worked tirelessly with our members to highlight inequalities and reduce variation in diagnosis, care and outcomes. By highlighting inequalities, driving up standards and sharing best practice, we can save many more lives.

UK Lung Cancer Coalition


  1. Cancer Research UK Lung Cancer Statistics:
  2. De Angelis R, Sant M, Coleman M et al. Cancer survival in Europe 1999–2007 by country and age: results of EUROCARE-5—a population-based study. Lancet Oncology 2014; 15 (1) 23–34.
  3. National Lung Cancer Audit (NLCA): State of the Nations Report April 2024:
  4. New lung cancer screening roll-out to detect cancer sooner. NHS England Press Release, June 2023:
  5. Driving Improvement in UK Lung Cancer Care Report. UKLCC, February 2024.
  6. Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, April 2024:

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please contact:

Lynsey Conway, UKLCC Communications Consultant
07778 304233 or