19th October 2021

James Brokenshire tribute debate

View all Early detection

Parliament is to hold a tribute debate this week in honour of James Brokenshire MP who died from lung cancer on Thursday 7th October.

As part of the debate, we have prepared the following briefing to provide MPs with key information and statistics about lung cancer, as well as the benefits of lung cancer screening.

Briefing from Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation:

There is an urgent need for lung cancer screening to improve long term survival and save lives. James was passionate about lung cancer screening, holding the first ever debate on the topic on 26th April 2018, after returning to work following his initial diagnosis and treatment.  In the chamber he said that the government should:

Commit to a national screening programme and use the pilot programmes to support its implementation. If we want to see a step change in survival rates – to see people living through rather than dying from lung cancer…. Now is the time to be bold.

James Brokenshire MP

James’s family wanted to support a cause that he cared passionately about. Since his death on Thursday 7th October, family, friends and those who were inspired by him have raised over £46,000 for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

As we have seen with James, lung cancer is a disease that can affect anyone – young and old, male and female, smoker and non-smoker.

About Lung Cancer

  • – Lung cancer is the UK’s most common cause of cancer
  • – Responsible for over a fifth of all male and female cancer deaths[i].
  • – Approx. 48,000 people diagnosed in the UK every year
  • – When James passed away on Thursday 7th October, approximately another 95 people will have also lost their life[ii].
  • – One person dies of lung cancer every 15 minutes[iii].

The need for a National Screening Program

  • – Less than a fifth (19.5%) of people with lung cancer are currently diagnosed at stage I.
  • – Two thirds of people who are diagnosed at stage III (20.1%) or IV (46.1%)[iv].
  • – Symptoms are vague, easy to ignore or dismiss as something else
  • – Referrals of suspected lung cancer, fell dramatically and have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

We therefore need to find a way to get ahead of this disease.

Lung Cancer Screening with low-dose CT works. Lives are saved by detecting the disease at an early stage, when it is potentially curable.

  • – Trials have shown a 20-24% reduction in lung cancer mortality with low dose CT screening.
  • – The National Screening Committee is currently undertaking a review of Lung Cancer Screening. Implementation is vital to improving early detection in this disease.

Recommendations to improve lung cancer patient outcomes

  • – Support the speedy approval and implementation of a National Lung Cancer Screening Programme.
  • – We urge Members of Parliament with a Targeted Lung Health Check within their constituency to support the programme and encourage eligible constituents to take up the opportunity when offered.
  • – Support the implementation of the National Optimal Lung Cancer Pathway. This timed Pathway is designed to ensure rapid diagnosis and treatment, through optimal logistics, capacity planning and application of the highest clinical standards. We urge Members of Parliament to ask how the NOLCP is being implemented in their local area. 
  • – Ensure the NHS is provided with the long-term investment it needs to train more staff to tackle cancer waiting times, keep up with future demand, and transform cancer services.

About Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

It is the UK’s only lung cancer charity to support everyone affected by lung cancer. Founded over 30 years ago, the charity has long campaigned for a national screening programme for lung cancer, recognising early detection is the key to revolutionise long-term disease survival.

  • – Fund vital research into early detection and patient experience
  • – Provide practical, emotional and practical support to everyone affected by lung cancer
  • – Raise awareness of signs and symptoms and challenge the dangerous misconceptions and stigma surrounding the disease.

For more information, please contact Rachel Avery on

[i] Cancer Research UK: Lung Cancer mortality

[ii] Cancer Research UK: Lung Cancer mortality

[iii] Cancer Research UK: Lung Cancer mortality

[iv] Cancer Research UK: Incidence by Stage