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Lung cancer treatment 'varies hugely'

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NHS treatment for lung cancer varies hugely depending on where the patient lives, according to the latest National Lung Cancer Audit.

It says that some patients are eight times more likely to get active treatment - surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy - than others.

Treatment also lags substantially behind comparable countries, says the report, which is published by the NHS Information Centre, Royal College of Physicians and Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership.

In 2006, 39,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer, and fewer than 10% survive beyond five years because two-thirds of cancers are diagnosed too late, says the report.

The proportion receiving active treatment ranges from 10 per cent in some areas to 80 per cent in others, with the proportion having surgery ranging from 5 per cent to 25 per cent. The proportion in comparable countries is 15 per cent to 25 per cent.

Meanwhile, chemotherapy rates also vary widely: only 62 per cent of patients with small-cell lung cancer receive the treatment even though it is known to be effective. This proportion is “unacceptably low”, and lower than other countries, the report says.

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