Monday, November 02, 2009

Inadequate Lung Cancer Care

Leading lung cancer experts report key areas of lung cancer care to be 'woefully inadequate', with the UK Lung Cancer Care Coalition saying UK care lags behind Europe in the area.

The umbrella group comprising of doctors, charities and private health firms report staff shortages are translating into fewer patients being given treatment like chemotherapy or surgery, because of staff shortages. The government says it is already aware of the fact that it needs to do more to improve lung cancer services, as the disease kills about 34,000 people every year, much more so than other cancer of the breast, prostate, bladder and leukaemia, combined.

Even though, lung cancer has been labelled as a 'smoker's disease', 1 out of 8-people who contract the disease, have never smoked.

Drawing on data from this year's official national audit, including feedback from leading doctors, the coalition report says, in some parts of the UK, less than 10% and 51% nationally of such patients receive any form of treatment. In recognition of the fact that treatment is not advisable in some patients in whom the cancer has spread too far, the coalition has called for a target of 70%, and estimates an extra 3,000 lives could be saved in a year.

A lack of access to surgeons is one of the major problems, with only 44 full-time positions for over 240-separate teams. UK's 5-year lung cancer survival rates below 9% are less than Europe's 12.3% on average, however, the coalition believes they could be doubled by 2020, by making the disease a priority.

More money would need to be invested in diagnostic equipment and the workforce, including encouraging GPs to refer at-risk patients for testing when the disease is still in its early stages.

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