Open Letter To The Prime Minister
The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation’s goal is the defeat of lung cancer. We fund research, campaign, educate and provide practical and emotional support to people affected by lung cancer and smoking.
Many cancers have seen significant improvements in survival in recent years. However, this is not the case in lung cancer, which remains the UK's leading cause of cancer death – over 35,000 people will die every year – that’s one person every 15 minutes. During the month of election campaigning, nearly 3,000 people will have died of lung cancer in UK. This devastating disease has an enormous impact on the lives of those diagnosed and those close to them.
Lung cancer survival, treatment and care in the UK lag behind other cancers and other European countries. 75% of lung cancer patients will die within a year of their diagnosis. Lung cancer survival is so poor in the UK because two thirds of lung cancers in the UK are diagnosed at an advanced stage when treatment options are limited– we need action to remedy this through early diagnosis and specialist treatment and care. We would like to see your new government take action on the following priority areas for lung cancer:
- Continue to support work raising awareness of lung cancer signs and symptoms. We know that less than 20% of people can name persistent cough or hoarseness as a possible symptom of lung cancer. There is no screening tool. Lung cancer awareness is vital - we need your government to continue to support work of the National Awareness and Early Detection Initiative in raising awareness of lung cancer symptoms amongst GPs, pharmacists, stop-smoking professionals and the general public.
- Protect Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist posts. We know that when cuts happen in the NHS, specialist nursing posts are often the first to go. Currently only 50% of lung cancer patients see a Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist. Case load is increasing, and whole time equivalents are dropping. Everyone diagnosed with lung cancer should benefit from the practical and emotional support offered by specialist nurses and we want your government to commit to not only ensuring posts are not cut but that lung cancer CNS provision improves during your term of office.
- Ensure continuation of the National Lung Cancer Audit. There is evidence of variation in treatment, care and access to drugs across the country and this affects patient outcomes. This is not good enough. We need all PCTs to be delivering to the level of the best. As a tool in meeting this aim, the National Lung Cancer Audit is vital to monitoring lung cancer services across the UK and it must be maintained at its current standard.
- Continue to support investment in stop smoking service provision. We know that in most people, lung cancer is related to cigarette smoking, and the longer someone smokes, the more likely they are to get lung cancer. Real progress has been made in recent years with tobacco control legislation. However, to have the most impact, public health measures such as the smoking ban must go hand in hand with support for individuals who want to stop smoking - it is vital that your government continues to support investment in stop smoking service provision.
Dr. Rosemary Gillespie
The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation