The research team found that people diagnosed with lung cancer
after an emergency admission:
- were more likely to have more advanced cancer
- often had less support from specialist staff
This trial was open for people to join between 2012 and 2013.The research team first published results in 2016.
About this study
This study was for people diagnosed with lung cancer after an emergency admission to hospital. Some family members (carers) also took part.
43 people completed a questionnaire, including 37 patients and 6 carers.
The research team also interviewed 23 people, including 13 patients and 10 carers.
During the time this study was open for people to take part, 401 people were diagnosed with lung cancer:
- 154 (38%) were diagnosed as an emergency
- 247 (62%) were not diagnosed as an emergency
The research team looked at why the people who were diagnosed as an emergency had gone to hospital. Most had either gone to accident and emergency (63%) or been referred urgently by their GP (24%). Others had been sent from another hospital department, or from a different hospital or residential home.
The research team found that people diagnosed in an emergency were more likely to:
- have more advanced cancer that had spread
- have treatment to help control the cancer or relieve symptoms
And less likely to:
- feel well enough to carry out their usual day to day activities
- have treatment aimed at curing their cancer
- be living a year after diagnosis
The results showed that there were several reasons why people were diagnosed after an emergency admission to hospital.
Some people assumed their symptoms were caused by another medical condition. Or that they were just a result of getting older. Not everyone taking part had been to see their GP, but some GPs thought the same. They gave other treatments first before referring people for tests. Some people had better experiences with their GP than others.
Some people were aware of the symptoms of lung cancer and had seen or heard the lung cancer awareness campaign that had been running. But some either ignored the campaign, or didn’t believe it.
Some people’s symptoms had come on quite suddenly, so they didn’t have much time to go elsewhere for advice before they became poorly.
Communication and support
People had varied experiences of communication with health care professionals (HCPs). Some had been told about their diagnosis in a way that was not very sensitive, or private. But some had had a much better experience and felt the HCPs did a good job.
Fewer people who were diagnosed in an emergency felt they had good care, or enough information.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) are nurses that specialise in supporting and helping people who have been diagnosed with cancer. It is helpful if they are there when the patient is told they have cancer, so they can help answer any questions and provide support.
There was a CNS there when people were told about their cancer for:
- 57 out of 154 people (37%) who were diagnosed in an emergency
- 152 out of 247 people (62%) who weren’t diagnosed in an emergency
The research team concluded that people who were diagnosed with lung cancer as an emergency often have more advanced cancer that is more difficult to treat.
They recommended that all patients who are diagnosed in an emergency situation are offered support from specialist staff.
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed
) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.