Survival rates for patients receiving lung cancer surgery rise as number of operations increase

Published: 05 Dec 2016

The new report published by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain & Ireland (SCTS), demonstrates further improvements in survival rates following lung cancer surgery.

View full report here

Rising from 95.5 to 96.2% over two years from 2012 to 2014, the consistent improvement in the number of people living longer than 90 days after surgery, together with an increase in number of operations to treat lung cancer, is encouraging.

The number of operations performed in the treatment of lung cancer increased 16% between 2013 and 2014, with a year-on-year rise in surgical interventions from 4,895 in 2013 to 5,657 in 2014.

In the past, diseases like heart disease or emphysema made it impossible for some patients to have surgery.  Recent advances including minimal access surgery, regional anaesthesia and Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) programmes have now made surgery an option for more patients, which may explain the increase in the number of operations performed.

Despite the rise in 90-day survival post-surgery, the 30-day survival rates remained broadly static, whilst still at a reassuringly high level of 97.9%.

The third Lung Cancer Clinical Outcome Publication (LCCOP) reports on the outcomes of operations to remove lung cancers in NHS hospitals in England during 2014, however this is the first time that the data gives consideration to the extraneous variables influencing the survival of individual patients. The treatment and prognosis for people diagnosed with lung cancer is often dependant on many factors, such as age and lifestyle.  Having access to a broader range of more data enables the audit to create a far more detailed picture of the care that lung cancer patients receive across England.

Dr Ian Woolhouse, senior clinical lead on the National Lung Cancer Audit said:

This most recent LCCOP report shows an impressively high level of post-operative survival and it is reassuring to see that this kind of surgical treatment, although often complex, is now widely available to patients suffering with this common type of cancer. 

The LCCOP is an invaluable report that demonstrates the individual activity of surgeons and their specific contribution to lung cancer care.

Doug West, Thoracic Audi Lead for the SCTS said:

We welcome this latest LCCOP report, which shows that the NHS is delivering more surgery for lung cancer, while survival after surgery shows some improvement.  Survival is consistently good, with no units identified as outliers. 

The new data reported this year, including length of stay and one year survival, should help patients and families make informed choices about their care.

The LCCOP audit measures outcomes of individual consultant thoracic and cardiothoracic surgeons who carry out surgery for lung cancer. The data is published as part of the NLCA programme, in response to an initiative of NHS England (Everyone Counts: Planning for Patients), aspiring to create greater transparency and as a result, more choice for patients and commissioners.

The information published in this report is also available on NHS Choices, and enables patients to make informed decisions about the treatment that they receive and where they are able to receive it. This is an excellent example of placing individuals at the centre of their own care, helping to ensure that they receive the appropriate care from highly trained professionals.

Full data are available at The Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain & Ireland.