Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation (RCLCF) today launches a new online Smart Map that shows how standards of lung cancer care vary throughout the UK.1 The resource, available at http://www.roycastle.org/how-we-help/our-campaigns/improving-treatment-and-care/interactive-map, is based on the latest research by the National Lung Cancer Audit (NLCA), published in December 2014. This shows encouraging improvements have been made in standards of lung cancer care across multiple UK regions.

The figures show that nursing has been a key area of improvement: 83.9% of patients in England and Wales were able to benefit from care by a specialist cancer nurse in 2013*, compared with only 79.9% in 2011.3 Lung Cancer Nurse Specialists can assist patients navigating through complex treatment regimens and provide support to assist daily living following the impact of diagnosis.4

Despite these improvements, significant challenges and variations in care still exist across the country. For example, while surgical treatment represents the best chance to cure the disease, only 15.1% of patients with lung cancer (at any disease stage) are receiving surgery.1,2 For patients with early stage lung cancer – when surgery is most likely to cure the disease – the number of patients receiving surgical treatment ranges from 33.3% to 62.9% across England.1,2

Lorraine Dallas, Director of Patient Information and Support at RCLCF said: “Since RCLCF was founded 25 years ago, we have seen great improvements to patient care in local cancer services across the UK. While these successes should be recognised, more needs to be done. This Smart Map shows that, in some areas, too few people are able to receive surgery, which offers the best chance of curing their disease. We call for further improvements to lung cancer services to ensure that all patients enjoy the best treatment and care available, no matter where they live in the UK”.

Regional variations included the Thames Valley region, in which 85.4% of patients were tested to determine their lung cancer type, compared with the national average of 75.1%.1,2 Furthermore, 65.7% of patients gained access to anti-cancer treatment compared with the national average of 60.2%.1,2 Elsewhere, 99.6% of patients in Wales received treatment by an expert multidisciplinary team compared with the English average of 95.4%.1,2

In comparison, only 69.4% of patients were tested to determine their lung cancer type in the Cheshire and Merseyside region, and only 53.0% of patients gained access to anti-cancer treatment in the South East.1,2 Furthermore, only 88.8% of patients in Cheshire and Merseyside received treatment by an expert multidisciplinary team.1,2

To address these differences, RCLCF calls for variations in service provision to be investigated locally and for appropriate strategies for improvement to be implemented to ensure patients receive the best treatment and care wherever they live.

The lung cancer Smart Map has been developed to allow people affected by lung cancer to review standards of lung cancer services in their region and to compare local standards with national averages. The resource includes the option to directly compare one region with another to determine where the best outcomes have been achieved. It is hoped that this information will further support lung cancer patients in their discussions with healthcare professionals and will enable them to make informed decisions to ensure that they receive the best care available. Understanding diagnosis and treatment available and why they are being offered can make a difference to patients’ wellbeing.

Commenting on the launch of the Smart Map, Dr Ian Woolhouse, Senior Clinical Lead, National Lung Cancer Audit, said: “The launch of the new Smart Map is a valuable expansion of the data the National Lung Cancer Audit has collected. By highlighting best practice and enabling the public to better understand the performance of services, this new resource can support further improvements to the quality of lung cancer care in the UK.”

The burden of lung cancer in the UK is significant; the disease remains the biggest cancer killer of men and women with around 44,000 new cases diagnosed every year.5 While survival rates are increasing, the UK is still among the lowest in Europe and trailing behind some other European countries.6

The Smart Map can be found at: http://www.roycastle.org/how-we-help/our-campaigns/improving-treatment-and-care/interactive-map

1. Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. 2015. Interactive map. Available at: http://www.roycastle.org/how-we-help/our-campaigns/improving-treatment-and-care/interactive-map (Last accessed: October 2015)
2. National Lung Cancer Audit Report 2014. Report for the audit period 2013. Available at: http://www.hqip.org.uk/assets/NCAPOP-Library/NCAPOP-2014-15/HSCICNLCA-2014finalinteractivereport.pdf (Last accessed: October 2015)
3. National Lung Cancer Audit Report 2012. Report for the audit period 2011. Available at: http://www.hqip.org.uk/assets/NCAPOP-Library/NCAPOP-2012-13/Lung-Cancer-National-Audit-Report-pub-2012.pdf (Last accessed: October 2015)
4. White, J. ‘The role of lung cancer nurse specialists’ in Cancer Nursing Practice. November 2013 Volume 12, no. 9. pp. 16-22 Available at: http://journals.rcni.com/doi/pdfplus/10.7748/cnp2013.11.12.9.16.e1000 (Last accessed: August 2015)Cancer Research UK. Lung cancer statistics. Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/lung-cancer#heading-One (Last accessed: October 2015)
5. Macmillan Cancer Support. UK cancer survival rates “stuck in the 1990s” says charity. March 2015. Available at: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Aboutus/News/Latest_News/UKCANCERSURVIVALRATESSTUCKINTHE1990SSAYSCHARITY.aspx (Last accessed: October 2015)
6. Cancer Research UK. Mortality statistics for common cancers. Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/mortality/cancerdeaths/uk-cancer-mortality-statistics-for-common-cancers (Last accessed: October 2015)

* 2013 is the year upon which the latest NLCA figures are based