Fighting lung cancer

We have made great steps forward in treating cancer but hearing that a relative has that diagnosis is a dark moment – and perhaps more so if we know it is lung cancer.

There is still a long way to go, but even with lung cancer there are ways to fight the disease. Everyone has a part to play in preventing, spotting the early signs of the illness and then getting the right treatment.

Most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking – out of every 100 cases 85 to 90 result from smoking. So not smoking or quitting if you do smoke is the first line of defence.

Then, if the disease does start, spotting it early gives the best chance of good treatment. Lung cancer most often starts when we are over 70. It can develop without us noticing at first but there are things to look out for:

  • a cough that lasts several weeks
  • losing weight without any reason
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain.

Of course, there are other reasons why these things might happen but these are symptoms that might be warning signs. For more information on early signs you can look at the NHS livewell website.

The GP then has the role of deciding if the signs need further investigation – then that’s where our Trust comes in.

We need to see patients quickly, do the right tests and make sure these are reviewed, then give the right treatment if needed. We look at how we do on these things and send our information to a national lung cancer audit. They produce reports for England and Wales. The most recent report showed that we are doing well.

The table below sets out how we compared to the country’s average. 

Our specialist nurses see most patients – though we want to do better. We then ensure that for patients who need surgery or treatment we provide that at the right time.

The Trust is proud of how we are doing and will continue to improve where we can. You can have a look at the way each area does across England and Wales on the interactive map at the Roy Castle website.

UHS performance on lung cancer
Step in the treatment that helps get good results The average across England and Wales (these are out of 100 and higher numbers are best) How we do in our Trust (these are out of 100 and higher numbers are best)  
Providing the right test to decide about the lung cancer 76 88 We are better than average
Discussing the case in a team to be sure the right decisions are taken 96 97 We are better than average
A cancer nurse specialist sees the patient 75 74 Just below the average
The patient has an operation (not everyone needs one) 14 21 We are better than average
Anti cancer treatment started (not always needed) 58 87 We are better than average
For information on stopping smoking see the Quitters website.

For more information on lung cancer see NHS Choices.