4th July 2023

Lung cancer survival rates at an all-time high

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The five-year survival rate for lung cancer has more than doubled since 2005, according to latest figures from the NHS.

In 2005, a person’s chance of surviving lung cancer for five years was just 9 per cent. Now, it has risen to a fifth, with the sizeable increase attributed to advances in early detection, improvement of awareness and a wealth of new treatments.

Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. She is very encouraged by the latest figures:

“Lung cancer survival rates have remained stubbornly low for decades, so it gives us all real hope to see this leap in five-year survival. But these improvements don’t just happen.

This is the result of much needed investment into lung cancer. It is because of sustained funding into research to better understand the disease and its many different types and its causes. It is down to the development of new, targeted treatments which allow people to live well with lung cancer for longer, and innovative awareness campaigns to increase understanding, improve recognition of symptoms and challenge disease misconceptions.

“And now, with the announcement of a national screening programme for lung cancer, along with all the other excellent work being done within lung cancer, we can look forward to more and more people living through lung cancer and living well with the disease for far longer.”

Last week, the Government announced plans to roll out national targeted screening for lung cancer which, when fully implemented will save as many as 9000 lives each year. The NHS is also investing in other ways to improve early detection.

Royal Preston Hospital in Lancashire has become the first UK hospital – and only the third centre in Europe – to benefit from a new tool to accelerate lung cancer diagnoses.

Using a thin tube-like instrument with a light and lens for viewing, The Lung Vision Navigation System allows doctors to examine a patient’s lungs in real time and reach areas which they were previously unable to take biopsy samples.

This cutting-edge tool could help speed up the diagnostic process and improve the chance of catching lung cancer at an earlier stage.

Professor Peter Johnson is the NHS England’s national clinical director for cancer. Writing in the Daily Express, he pays tribute to the innovations that have driven progress.

“Thanks to advances in treatment and care alongside NHS awareness campaigns, survival rates in this country are now at an all-time high.

“The number of people surviving lung cancer for five years or more has doubled in the last two decades, with a fifth alive after five years. This is really encouraging progress, but there is still so much to do to save more lives – and we will not stop here.

“As the NHS turns 75 this week, we will continue to find new and better ways to make it as easy as possible for people most at risk to get life-saving tests as part of their daily routines.”