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06.12.16

Lung cancer survival rates rise with increased operations

A new report published by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain & Ireland (SCTS) has shown a continued rise in survival rates following lung cancer surgery in English NHS hospitals, as rates rose from 95.5% to 96.2% from 2012 to 2014.

The latest Lung Cancer Clinical Outcome Publication (LLCOP) marks a consistent improvement in the number of people living longer than 90 days after surgery, matched by an increase in the number of operations to treat lung cancer, which increased by 16% between 2013 and 2014 to 5,657.

Despite the rise in patients surviving longer than 90 days post-surgery, the 30-day survival rate has remained largely static, albeit at a reassuringly high 97.9%.

The increases have been put down to recent advances such as minimal access surgery, regional anaesthesia and enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) programmes, which have limited the effect of diseases that previously ruled patients out for surgery like heart disease and emphysema.

Dr Ian Woolhouse, senior clinical lead on the National Lung Cancer Audit, said: “This most recent LCCOP report shows an impressively high level of post-operative survival and it is reassuring to see that this kind of surgical treatment, although often complex, is now widely available to patients suffering with this common type of cancer. 

“The LCCOP is an invaluable report that demonstrates the individual activity of surgeons and their specific contribution to lung cancer care.”

Although this is the third LLCOP audit to be published, this report marks the first time that the data takes into account inessential variables influencing the survival of individual patients, with the treatment and diagnosis of lung cancer patients often dependent on factors such as their age and lifestyle.

Experts have hailed access to a broader range of data, which they said enables the audit to create a more detailed picture of the care that lung cancer patients receive.

Doug West, thoracic audit lead for the SCTS, added: “We welcome this latest LCCOP report, which shows that the NHS is delivering more surgery for lung cancer, while survival after surgery shows some improvement. Survival is consistently good, with no units identified as outliers. 

“The new data reported this year, including length of stay and one year survival, should help patients and families make informed choices about their care.”

The LCCOP is published as part of the National Lung Cancer Audit (NLCA) programme, which is managed by the RCP’s Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit.

The work of the NLCA dates back to 2003 and it currently forms part of the National Clinical Audit Programme, which comprises over 30 clinical audits relating to care provided to people with a wide range of health conditions. The data was published in response to NHS England’s ‘Everyone Counts: Planning for Patients’ initiative, which aims to create greater transparency and consequently greater choice for patients and commissioners.

(Image:  c. Sebastian Kaulitzki)

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