Medical Negligence

Lung cancer ‘being diagnosed too late’

Estimated read time: 2 mins

Carrie Tennick, January 31, 2020

Patients in the UK are being diagnosed with lung cancer too late, according to a new report by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC).

The report – ‘Early Diagnosis Matters: Making the Case for the Early and Rapid Diagnosis of Lung Cancer’ – revealed that A&E admission is still the most common way the disease is being diagnosed. The organisation labelled this a “travesty”.

It also found that patients diagnosed via emergency admission are over five times more likely to die within one year of being diagnosed than those who are referred for treatment by their GPs.

Poor survival rates

Professor Mick Peake, clinical director of the Centre for Cancer Outcomes, said: “The UK has some of the worst lung cancer survival rates in Europe. This is because lung cancer is being diagnosed too late, often after an emergency presentation.”

He went on to add: “Diagnosing lung cancer at an early stage can lead to more treatment options and better outcomes for patients.”

The UKLCC reported that in England, roughly 40% of people with lung cancer first specialist care via an emergency admission to hospital. In addition, across the country there is a five-fold variation in the proportion of lung cancers first diagnosed via an emergency.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 88% of lung cancer patients diagnosed early (at stage 1) will survive for at least a year, compared to 19% who are diagnosed with the most advanced stage of the disease.

Among the most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • Having a cough most of the time
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain in the chest or shoulder
  • Chest infections that keep returning or not getting better
  • Loss of appetite
  • Being tired all the time
  • Weight loss

Greater public awareness

The UKLCC’s report sets out 10 recommendations for diagnosing lung cancer earlier in order to increase lung cancer survival. It has called for public awareness campaigns focused on lung cancer to be funded every year, alongside regional and local campaigns to support improved understanding of signs and symptoms.

It also recommended that smoking cessation services should be encouraged to use their contact with smokers to increase awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer and the value of early detection.

The ULCC also called for the wider healthcare community, including nurses and pharmacists, to be able to refer patients who they suspect of having lung cancer for an X-ray.

If you’ve suffered from a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis of lung cancer, you could be able to claim compensation to help improve your quality of life. Just get in touch with our compassionate and understanding advisors, who will talk you through your options.

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