A new report published today by Tenovus Cancer Care has called for action to tackle inequalities and improve outcomes for people with lung cancer in Wales.
In Wales, approximately 1,900 people a year die from lung cancer (Public Health Wales, 2022), making it the biggest cause of cancer death in the country.
The report comes as the UK National Screening Committee considers making recommendations around the introduction of targeted screening for lung cancer, following a public consultation.
Lung Health Checks (LHCs) are a targeted health intervention which includes low dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening for people aged 55 to 74 with a history of smoking.
In Wales, 45 per cent of lung cancer cases aren’t diagnosed until Stage 4 (Public Health Wales, 2021), when treatment options are more limited.
Late diagnosis has a significant impact on mortality. When lung cancer is diagnosed at Stage 1, there is an 85 per cent chance of survival, compared to just 15 per cent when identified at Stage 4 (Public Health Wales, 2022).
The introduction of targeted LHCs is predicted to prevent more than 20 per cent of lung cancer deaths amongst those screened and improve outcomes for many more patients (Wales Cancer Network, 2020).
However, the Tenovus Cancer Care report explains the importance of mitigating inequalities before rolling out cancer screening programmes.
People who live in deprived areas of Wales are 2.75x more likely to develop lung cancer Public Health Wales, 2022.
Increased smoking rates, lower symptom awareness, barriers to seeking help and fewer treatment options due to likelihood of comorbidities are all inequalities recognised in the report which contribute to higher rates and worse outcomes for patients in deprived communities.
Current screening programmes, including the Bowel Screening Programme, have seen low uptake amongst people from deprived socio-economic backgrounds. The report makes several recommendations for Welsh Government and NHS partners to consider to narrow the inequality gap and improve lung cancer incidence and survival.