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Inspiring best practice in respiratory care


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The Primary Care Respiratory Society

Inspiring best practice in respiratory care

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This website is for healthcare professionals only

Earlier lung cancer diagnosis increases survival rates

Lung cancer patients diagnosed via emergency hospital admission are five times more likely to die within a year than those referred for treatment by their GP says a new report.

The report, Early Diagnosis Matters: Making the Case for the Early and Rapid Diagnosis of Lung Cancer, by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition, of which PCRS is a member, says around 40% of people with lung cancer first reach specialist care via an emergency admission to hospital. In addition, across the country there is a five-fold variation in the proportion of lung cancers first diagnosed via an emergency. 

The report makes 10 recommendations supported by PCRS.

These include:

  • Stop smoking services should be encouraged to use their contact with smokers to increase awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer and the value of early detection
  • The wider healthcare community, including nurses and pharmacists, must be able to refer someone who they suspect might have lung cancer for a Chest X-ray
  • Public awareness and action campaigns focused on lung cancer should be funded every year – alongside regional and local campaigns to support improved understanding of signs and symptoms

Steve Holmes, PCRS Education Lead and a member of the UKLCC’s Clinical Advisory Group, said:  “This report is very timely showing that lung cancer is still the commonest cause of cancer death in the UK, and despite improvement in rates of surgery and anti-cancer treatment in recent years, our one year survival rates in the National Lung Cancer Audit remain at only 37% (unchanged since last year). 

“We disappointingly diagnose fewer lung cancers at an early stage compared to other countries, however we are introducing more lung health checks in parts of England that are being evaluated (using low dose CT scans) and are working towards a 28 day diagnosis standard from referral. It is still important that we as clinicians have a high index of suspicion for lung cancer when managing patients and a low threshold to investigate for potential lung cancer - as we know outcomes can be better.”

The UKLCC report follows a review of changes in lung cancer symptoms by researchers at the University of Exeter, which found that over the last 17 years the number of patients with presenting symptoms of cough or dyspnoea before their diagnosis of lung cancer have increased. Conversely the proportion of patients presenting with haemoptysis or appetite loss have declined and these are now very rare presenting symptoms of lung cancer.1

All members of the primary care team interested in updating themselves on detecting patients at risk of lung cancer in the light of these two new reports, can find expert advice in Focus on Lung Cancer a new suite of published by PCRS.

 

Category: 
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