Improved lung cancer survival

A NEW report shows a seven per cent increase in lung cancer patients surviving for longer than one year compared with results from 2010.

The National Lung Cancer Audit report 2016 reveals that one-year survival rose from 31 to 38 per cent in the five-year period from 2010 to 2015 and also that 60 per cent of lung cancer patients received anti-cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, meeting a target set out in the 2015.

The report by the Royal College of Physicians (London) was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP). It highlights a significant rise in the proportion of patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who received chemotherapy, increasing by 16 per cent from 48 per cent in 2008 to 64 per cent in 2015, while the percentage of NSCLC patients undergoing surgery has risen to 16.8 per cent.

A change in the way data are collected in England, using the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS), has resulted in over 6,000 further cases of lung cancer being identified and included within the audit – providing the most comprehensive picture of lung cancer care in the UK to date. The report also found regional variation in the survival rates and types of treatments that patients are offered.

The authors of the report recommend that pathological confirmations below 80 per cent should be reviewed to ensure that best practice has been followed and that at least 90 per cent patients should be seen by a lung cancer nurse specialist (LCNS) and 80 per cent of patients should also have an LCNS present at the time of diagnosis. The report indicates that only 57 per cent of patients were seen by an LCNS.

Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) with anti-cancer treatment rates of below 60 per cent should conduct detailed case note reviews to identify why patients did not receive anti-cancer treatment and those with one-year survival rates of less than 38 per cent should review their diagnostic and treatment pathways to ensure that all patients are diagnosed promptly and treated appropriately.

Ian Woolhouse, NLCA senior clinical lead, said: "It is very encouraging to note that overall many of our audit indicators have improved compared to the last report. Highlights include the improvement in pathological sub-typing of lung cancer, the use of chemotherapy and surgery in non-small-cell lung cancer, and probably most importantly the improvement in 1-year survival.

"However, there is still much work to do to ensure that all lung cancer patients receive a standard of care that is equal to the best in the country and we implore all lung cancer units to critically review their results and work with our quality improvement team to achieve this."