Report reveals postcode lottery for lung cancer survival

In collaboration with Adfero

A new report by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has uncovered widespread variations in lung cancer survival across the country.

The report, which was launched in the House of Commons today (July 12th), also found that certain cancer treatments are more frequently offered to patients in some areas than in others.

According to the charity's research, which looked at data from a range of sources, including Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Intelligence Network, the average lung cancer patient survives for 188.5 days following their diagnosis.

But average survival varies from just 150 days for those living in Coventry, Warwickshire and Worcestershire to 224 days for those in the Thames Valley area.

Similarly, a lung cancer patient's chances of surviving for up to one year after diagnosis vary from 15 per cent in Herefordshire to 43.7 per cent in Kensington and Chelsea.

Cancer Research UK's policy manager, Hilary Tovey, said the report showed that a 'postcode lottery' still exists for lung cancer, despite significant progress in tackling the disease.

"We know from previous research that too many lung cancer patients in England are diagnosed at A&E when their cancer is very advanced, and that patients in certain parts of the country are more likely to be offered surgery for their lung cancer while others may be missing out.

"Quitting smoking and encouraging both patients and professionals to act on the early signs of lung cancer will be crucial to reduce these inequalities, and to bring our survival rates in line with the best in Europe.

"The government also needs to make sure that the NHS is adequately equipped to deliver lung cancer patients the services they need. This includes ensuring that each lung cancer case is reviewed by a full panel of lung cancer experts and that patients have access to a lung cancer nurse specialist; measures which have been shown to increase the likelihood that patients will get access to the treatment which might help to cure their cancer or prolong their lives."

The 'Explaining Variations in Lung Cancer in England' report also found that patients in deprived areas are less likely to be given chemotherapy, while the proportion of patients that see a specialist lung cancer nurse ranges from just 13.6 per cent in Kent and Medway Cancer Network to more than 90 per cent in Dorset.

There are also variations in the proportion of lung cancer patients who undergo surgery, with those in north-east London being more than twice as likely to receive surgery as those in Sussex.

Overall, however, surgery rates across the country are low, at an average of just 19.9 per cent.

Dr Rosemary Gillespie, chief executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, revealed that the disease is still the most common cause of cancer death in England, despite recent advances.

She said: "Your chance of surviving lung cancer and receiving a treatment which could benefit you should not be decided by where you live in the country. Sadly, it is clear that this is indeed the case and there is significant geographical variation in patient survival and patient access to care and treatment.

"We hope this report will act as a tool to help bring those areas with a poorer service and outcomes up to the standard of the best, so we can improve the experience of all lung cancer patients and save lives."