Health experts are demanding “drastic improvements” to lung cancer care to improve patient survival rates which doctors say are falling behind the rest of Europe.
A new report by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition of charities and doctors is challenging governments to increase five year survival rates to 25% by 2025.
It claims in England just 16% of patients are still alive five years after being diagnosed with lung cancer, while in Northern Ireland it is 10.5%, Scotland 9.8% and just 6.6% in Wales.
Recommendations include faster diagnosis and early detection, better support to help smokers quit and more campaigns to raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease.
Professor Mick Peake, chairman of the Coalition’s clinical advisory group said: “We cannot be complacent. Lung cancer survival rates across the UK still lag severely behind out European counterparts and compare poorly with other major common cancer types.”
Lung cancer kills around 35,000 people in the UK each year.
Joanna Marshall was told she had the disease two years ago.
The 39-year-old visited her GP three times before she was correctly diagnosed and she is supporting the report.
“I was actually hoping it would be tuberculosis because you want anything rather than lung cancer because it’s such a death sentence,” she said.
Statements from the Welsh and Scottish Governments said while survival rates were improving they were taking the report’s recommendations seriously and working to improve early detection rates and help smokers quit.
Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robinson said: “Our £100m Cancer Strategy is aimed at improving prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and after care.
“Since the launch of our Detect Cancer Early Programme lung cancer diagnoses at Stage One has increased by almost 36% increasing to 44% in the most deprived areas.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: “We want to lead the world in the fight against cancer and have already announced funding of up to £300m a year by 2020 to meet our new target for patients to be given a definitive cancer diagnosis, or the all clear, within 28 days of being referred by a GP.”