Lung cancer: surgery rates static despite recommendations

Published: 01 Dec 2015

  • Latest national lung cancer audit report sets new level of ambition for lung cancer care in the UK

The 11th annual report of the National Lung Cancer Audit (NLCA), published today by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), reveals that despite significant progress in lung cancer care during the first 5 years of the audit, very little has changed since then.

Surgery offers the best chance of a cure for lung cancer patients. However, the audit demonstrates that since 2010, the proportion of lung cancer patients treated with surgery has not improved from 15%. Furthermore, this can vary across the country from 10 to 24% and this difference does not appear to be due to the patients’ background, age or stage of lung cancer.

The RCP has brought together a new team of lung cancer experts to improve lung cancer care over the next 5 years. The team has set higher standards that take into account the use of new treatments for lung cancer. These treatments specifically targeting lung cancer cells without harming normal lung and tissue, allow more patients to receive them safely. The team will also undertake detailed reviews in areas where lung cancer treatments are underused.

The full report can be found here

Participation in the audit by lung cancer services in England, Guernsey, Scotland and Wales have been outstanding, collectively contributing data on 37,000 patients diagnosed with the disease in 2014.

Dr Ian Woolhouse, senior clinical lead for the NLCA, said:

“I am encouraged by the continued participation and support of the audit by lung cancer services across the country. However, now is the time to take lung cancer care to the next level by ensuring that all lung cancer patients receive the most up-to-date treatments so that the UK can achieve the outcomes currently reported internationally.”

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK after breast cancer. In 2012, there were over 44,000 new cases of lung cancer in the UK and more than 35,000 people died from the condition. Current survival rates for lung cancer are the second lowest out of 20 common cancers in England and Wales (CRUK, 2015).

The NLCA is commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) as part of the National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcomes Programme (NCAPOP). The NLCA aims to review the quality of lung cancer care, highlight areas for improvement and reduce variation in practice. It is managed by the Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit of the RCP, working in partnership with nurses who specialise in lung cancer care, surgeons, oncologists, public health workers, academics, and patients through the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.*