UK Experts demand reinstigation of 'shelved' lung cancer awareness campaign

Clinicians working in the front-line of UK lung cancer services have today (21 July 2015) written an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, demanding clarity on the future of the Be Clear on Cancer lung cancer awareness campaign. 

Despite a nationwide campaign in 2012 funded by the Department of Health - which resulted in raised public awareness of persistent cough as a key lung cancer symptom, more patients being urgently referred by their GPs, and an increase in the number lung cancers diagnosed - the Government has neglected to announce a follow-up.

“We are disappointed that the Department of Health does not appear to be building on the success of its own nationwide lung cancer awareness initiative, and that the campaign seems to have been shelved,” says Mr Richard Steyn, Chair of the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) and Consultant Thoracic Surgeon and Associate Medical Director, Surgery, at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. 

Despite improvements in services in recent years, wide variations in lung cancer treatment and care continue to persist across the UK and treatment and survival rates lag behind other comparable countries in Europe. Patients in the UK are diagnosed with more advanced disease than many other countries with around 40% first reaching specialist care via an emergency admission to hospital - resulting in poorer outcomes.

Earlier in 2015, the UKLCC (of which Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is a member) provided recommendations for the Independent Cancer Taskforce’s just-published Five Year Cancer Strategy. It stated that improving awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, by maintaining funding for national awareness programmes, was vital to ensuring early diagnosis and treatment. 

“We are therefore calling on the new Government to re-instigate the campaign immediately - in order to encourage early diagnosis and save British lives,” added Mr Steyn. 

To access a full copy of the open letter, visit: www.uklcc.org.uk

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