1st March 2020

Lung cancer in Wales

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In honour of St David’s Day, we’ve taken a closer look at lung cancer in Wales, including access to treatment.

Wales offers huge variety and contrasts. From the shining waters of the Menai Straits to the rolling landscapes of the valleys, from majestic Snowdonia to the beautiful beaches of Pembrokeshire, from rural towns and villages to the bustle of Swansea and Cardiff, Wales has it all.

Unfortunately, Wales also has a major problem with lung cancer.

In common with the rest of the UK, lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer, claiming over 1,800 lives in Wales each year. One-year survival rates lag slightly behind those for England and Northern Ireland.

But there’s better news too: the five-year survival rate for lung cancer are up by 4.1% according to the latest figures from the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit.

Wales has also become the first UK nation to introduce a single waiting-time target for cancer patients; waiting times are now measured from when cancer is first suspected, not from the point when they were first referred to hospital. The aim is to speed up diagnosis and improve survival rates even further.

However, there are wide variations in survival rates across Wales, reflecting social and economic inequalities.

Of the most common cancers, the widest cancer death inequalities are from lung cancer. It has a steep gradient of increasing death rate moving from the least to the most deprived areas in Wales. This deprivation gap widened by over a fifth (21.4%) between 2001-2005 and 2013-2017.

Report by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (2018)

Our chief executive Paula Chadwick says:

“We know there are always strong links between lung cancer and social and economic factors. This situation is distressing and, frankly, a scandal.

We campaign on behalf of all people affected by lung cancer right across the UK, and we challenge both the UK government in Westminster and the Welsh Assembly to recognise the need for urgent action to tackle these inequalities. They are costing lives, each and every day, and this must change.

You can get information and support about lung cancer on our website or via our free nurse-led helpline on 0800 358 7200. We also run support groups nationwide.

Health care provision in Wales

In Wales, the NHS delivers services through seven Health Boards and four NHS Trusts.

Health Boards

The Local Health Boards (LHBs) in Wales plan, secure and deliver healthcare services in their areas. These are:

Aneurin Bevan Health Board
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Hywel Dda Local Health Board
Cwm Taf Health Board
Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board
Powys Teaching Health Board
Swansea Bay University Health Board

Each Health Board is subdivided into locality offices

A directory of local GP services can be found on each Health Board web site or via the Health in Wales Directory.

NHS Trusts

There are 4 NHS Trusts in Wales that focus on the whole country:

Velindre NHS Trust (the major hospital Trust that specialises in cancer treatment)
Public Health Wales
Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW)
Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

How are treatments for lung cancer approved for use on the NHS in Wales?

New treatments and medicines are approved for use on the NHS by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care and Excellence), which is a Non-Departmental Public Body and the Welsh government has a Service Level Agreement with NICE.

Technology Appraisal guidance issued by NICE is subject to a funding Direction issued by the Welsh Government’s Minister for Health and Social Services. This places a statutory obligation on Local Health Boards and NHS Trusts in Wales to make available health technologies recommended by NICE within three months of the date of publication, unless otherwise instructed by the Welsh Government.

NHS Wales Governance Manual