Sharing good practice ‘critical’ to improving UK lung cancer survival say experts

12 Feb 2024
Sharing good practice ‘critical’ to improving UK lung cancer survival say experts

Sharing good practice and innovation will lead to better outcomes and improved survival for UK lung cancer patients, says a new report published by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC). 

Called Driving Improvements in UK Lung Cancer - Utilising Good Practice and Innovation to Deliver Optimal Care and Outcomes,1 the report is calling on all those responsible for caring for people with lung cancer to consider how they can take steps to improve the quality and outcomes of their services. 

“Despite significant improvements in the staging and treatment of the disease in recent years, there are still wide variations and inequalities in access to lung cancer treatments and care - both between, and within, each of the four UK nations,” says Robert Rintoul, Professor of Thoracic Oncology, Cambridge, and Clinical Lead for the UKLCC.

Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer2 and disproportionately affects those from deprived areas. Currently, there is up to a threefold (11-32%) variation in people undergoing surgery for lung cancer across England and Wales3 – and five-year survival rates across all UK nations lag behind other European countries.4 However, lung cancer can be cured if diagnosed early enough.

“Learning from others, and adapting good practice to local needs, is critical to improving the quality of services, reducing inequalities, and saving more lives from this terrible disease,” adds Professor Rintoul.

The report focuses on three key priority areas for driving service improvement and better outcomes – and spotlights a selection of local and national initiatives which have helped to reduce waiting times; led to faster diagnosis; and improved access to the best-available treatments.  They are:

  • Reducing inequalities in access to optimal and timely care e.g. introduction of a Single Queue Diagnostics System to share diagnostic capacity across Great Manchester has reduced waiting times for Endobronchial Ultrasound Services (EBUS) from a median of 18 to five days.
  • Achieving universal access to molecular diagnostics e.g. sharing of an existing local transport service for HPV testing in Torbay and Devon had led to a reduction in turnaround times for lung cancer genomic test samples of five days.
  • Optimising the impact of lung cancer screening e.g. investigating the reasons why people do, and crucially do not, engage with lung screening, has helped Stoke-on-Trent’s Targeted Lung Health Check Programme to adapt its communications strategies and obtain a greater understanding of local health inequalities. 

The report also makes a series of practical recommendations to help influence change including holding more meetings at a national, regional, and local level - to promote the exchange of ideas - and looking beyond medical and surgical services where quality could be improved, or time and resource can be freed up.

“We will never change anything if we don’t learn from others and share what’s working well,” says Professor Mick Peake, Chair of the UKLCC.  “We challenge those reading our report to consider how they can drive improvements in their own area. Patients should expect nothing less than access to consistent, high-quality care, and the best possible survival chances - whoever they are and wherever they live.”

Source: UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC)