Report highlights lung cancer service inequalities
A new report has revealed that services for people with lung cancer vary across the country, despite calls for the so-called 'postcode lottery' to be eliminated.
Research conducted by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation (RCLCF) shows that patients do not all receive the same levels of care or services to enable them to manage their condition effectively.
The charity produces an annual 'Report Card', which awards grades for performance across various areas of lung cancer management and patient care, such as equity of care, funding for research and availability of specialist nurses.
In its latest Report Card, there has been no improvement in six out of eight categories and the report highlights the fact that patients in particular areas of the country, or who are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, still receive poorer care than those in other regions or from more wealthy backgrounds.
RCLCF chief executive Rosemary Gillespie commented: "The Report Card has shown that lung cancer services in England and Wales still remain low on the government's agenda and it is vital that the government now prioritises improving all aspects of lung cancer services and makes a stronger commitment to patients."
The report also criticises UK survival rates for lung cancer and describes government research funding for the disease as "woefully insufficient", particularly considering lung cancer is the UK's leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.
Mick Tilbury, a lung cancer patient from Northampton, emphasised the importance of receiving a good level of support and care.
He revealed: "I have had a good experience with my lung cancer journey, because I was supported by a lung cancer specialist nurse and had a great team looking after me.
"It made such a difference to my life and I think it's completely unacceptable that there are patients like me who aren't getting access to these vital services."
Hilary Jackson, Cancer Research UK's policy manager, commented: "These results are particularly worrying because they echo those of the National Lung Cancer Audit published last month, which showed that despite lung cancer being the UK's biggest cancer killer, the variation in diagnosis and treatment across the UK is still unacceptable.
"Many lung cancers are still diagnosed too late for effective treatment. So the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI), jointly led by the Department of Health and Cancer Research UK, is working hard to make real improvements in this area and to encourage people to see their doctor if they are worried about particular symptoms.
"More research is needed to find new ways of fighting lung cancer," Ms Jackson continued. "But as well as finding new treatments, prevention is vital as nine out of ten cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking.
"It's crucial that we call on government to keep tobacco out of sight and out of mind to prevent young people from starting smoking in the first place."