13th April 2023

Progress – but not perfection: Latest figures show signs of lung cancer recovery

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The National Lung Cancer Audit’s most recent report – State of the Nation Report 2023 – was published on Wednesday 12th April.

Key findings suggest that lung cancer is getting back on track, with the number of patients diagnosed returning to pre-pandemic levels.

However, there remains much to do with other areas, including the number of patients diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 lung cancer receiving curative intent treatment, falling short of the audit standard.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, comments on the latest report:

“The State of the Nation Report 2023 from the National Lung Cancer Audit shows progress is being made after the Covid 19 pandemic, which we know had a severe impact on all cancers, and in particular lung cancer.

We are relieved to see that the number of people being diagnosed with lung cancer has returned to pre-pandemic levels in both England and Wales. Lung cancer never went away. The drop in people diagnosed in 2020 did not mean fewer people were getting lung cancer, only that fewer were being detected, so it is encouraging that those with the disease are getting a diagnosis and able to receive treatment.

“The report also demonstrates that treatment for lung cancer is also improving, albeit slower than we would like. The surgical rate for lung cancer, which we recognise as the best form of curative-intent treatment, has not returned its pre-pandemic levels.

“79% of those with early stage disease received curative intent treatment, a rise of 4% but still below the audit standard of 80%, which is obviously disappointing and concerning. It can be difficult to catch lung cancer early so when it happens, we need to ensure patients have the opportunity to receive life-saving treatment.

“We can take more encouragement though that 93% of patients in Wales were assessed by a specialist nurse at the time of their diagnosis.

“We know the vital role lung cancer nurse specialists play in a person’s diagnosis and treatment. They can be a guide, a confidant, and a key ally. Research has even shown that people with lung cancer live longer and cope better with treatments when cared for by specialist nurses, so it is very reassuring that the majority of people with lung cancer have a nurse by their side.  

“This is definitely one of the positives we can take from these latest figures. However, we are all very much aware about the pressure on the NHS. We need to use the figures from this report and continue rebuild and recover, prioritising lung cancer and the thousands of people affected.”

Click here for more information about The National Lung Cancer Audit – State of the Nation Report 2023