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More specialist nurses needed to 'improve lung cancer survival rates'

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More specialist lung cancer nurses are required in England, as part of a series of measures, if survival rates are to match those in other parts of Europe, according to a group of experts.

The UK Lung Cancer Coalition has warned that survival rates for the disease in England still “lag significantly behind” other European countries, with just 8.8% people still alive five years after diagnosis, compared to an average of 13% across the continent.

It noted that England is currently one of the worst countries in Europe for lung cancer survival, being ranked 26 out of 29 European countries.

“Despite improvements in care over the last 10 years, lung cancer survival rates in England still lag significantly behind other European countries”

Mick Peake

The UKLCC has called for better staffing levels across the lung cancer pathway – particularly in relation the number of specialist nurses – to improve diagnosis rates and access to treatment.

Meanwhile, it has urged the government to provide sustained funding for implementing national lung cancer awareness programmes and promoting greater support for clinical research. 

“Despite improvements in care over the last 10 years, lung cancer survival rates in England still lag significantly behind other European countries,” said Mick Peake, chair of the UKLCC’s clinical advisory group and clinical lead for the National Lung Cancer Audit.

“Lung cancer remains England’s biggest cancer killer – accounting for over 28,000 deaths,” he said.

“This is primarily a result of late diagnosis and wide variation in patient experience and access to treatment across the country,” added Mr Peake.

The coalition group – which has members including charities the British Lung Foundation and Cancer Research UK – has called for these measures to be put in place following NHS England’s recently announced independent cancer taskforce, which is accepting expert opinion to inform its forthcoming five-year plan.

The taskforce, chaired by Cancer Research UK chief executive Harpal Kumar, is looking at how to improve prevention, create swifter diagnosis and improved treatment, care and aftercare for all those diagnosed with cancer.

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