1st August 2023

World Lung Cancer Day: How lung cancer is finally being made a priority

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There seems to be a day for pretty much everything nowadays. Step in a Puddle and Splash your Friends Day (11 January). Talk Like Yoda Day (21st May). World Emoji Day (17th July).

World Lung Cancer Day is different though. It helps shine a light on a disease which affects so many of us. For us however, it is a day like any other because, at Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, everyday is lung cancer day.

Days like this though give you the opportunity to reflect and compare where we are today to where we were a year ago.

Lung cancer screening

This time last year, we had just launched our #needtoscreen campaign. Our incredible charity ambassadors, Cathy Brokenshire and Fiona Castle, united on the BBC Breakfast sofa and echoed our calls for lung cancer screening.

A year on, we have had the recommendation from the National Screening Committee and agreement from the Government for the implementation of a targeted screening programme for lung cancer and the expectation that, once fully implemented, as many as 9000 lives will be saved every year.

Living well, for longer

Thankfully, long gone are the days when off the shelf chemotherapy is the only treatment for lung cancer. We are now in a period where lung cancer treatments are coming thick and fast, targeting specific types of lung cancer and helping more people to live well with all stages of the disease.

As a result, latest figures from the NHS have shown the five-year survival rate for lung cancer has more than doubled since 2005.

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.

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.

Priority status

It feels like there is much to celebrate this World Lung Cancer Day.

Whilst not without the obvious problems, such as workforce and access to primary care, it feels like there is a lot to be hopeful for. There is real momentum behind lung cancer right now and we no longer feel alone in our desire for change. People with lung cancer are being made a priority when, for so long, they were cast aside by everyone but us.  

The implementation of screening, the flurry of new treatments and days like today which put lung cancer in the spotlight, all help to say the same thing: people with lung cancer matter and a lot of hard work is going into saving their lives.