NHS in Scotland urged to publish lung cancer data

In collaboration with the Press Association

The UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) has called on the Scottish NHS to publish data on the performance of lung cancer services in a bid to improve survival rates.

“The Government needs to support campaigns to improve early diagnosis and give GPs the tools they need to diagnose cancer earlier" - Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK

A recent UKLCC report shows that Scotland has one of the worse lung cancer survival rates in Europe - ranking 27th out of 29 European countries.

According to the report, fewer than nine out of every 100 lung cancer patients in Scotland are predicted to be alive five years after diagnosis, compared with 13 out of 100 for Europe as a whole.

As part of a national cancer quality programme, Scottish NHS boards are required to report on how well care is being delivered, in the form of Quality Performance Indicators (QPIs).

But while these data are being collected, the two bodies in charge of scrutinising the delivery of health services - Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Information Services Division - are yet to commit to publishing the figures.

Consultant medical oncologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Dr Marianne Nicolson, said that publishing the information “has the capacity to significantly increase patient outcomes and improve lung cancer survival across Scotland.”

But Dr Nicolson added that although the country had taken positive steps to tackle lung cancer, including programmes for earlier diagnosis and increased support for patients, “outcomes for lung cancer patients in Scotland remain poor compared to the rest of Europe”.

The UKLCC report also supported a review of Scotland’s Detect Cancer Early Campaign, and suggested looking at what plans are in place for hard-to-reach communities.

Emma Greenwood, head of policy at Cancer Research UK, said: “Raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer and encouraging people to see their doctor without delay if they spot any symptoms can make a difference to diagnosing the cancer earlier when the chances of having surgery are higher.”

“Symptoms can include being more breathless than usual or often, a cough that has lasted longer than three weeks, an existing cough that has changed or got worse or coughing up blood.

“The Government needs to support campaigns to improve early diagnosis and give GPs the tools they need to diagnose cancer earlier, including access to the right diagnostic tests.

“Cancer Research UK is funding research into all aspects of lung cancer from new tests that will help detect the disease earlier to more effective and kinder treatments to help more people beat the disease.”

Scotland is also the only UK nation were lung cancer is the most common type of cancer.

The condition is behind more than a quarter of Scottish cancer deaths in both sexes - 26.4 per cent of men and 26.7 per cent of women - and causes more than twice as many deaths as any other cancer.

Copyright Press Association 2014