Monday, 2 November 2009

'3,000 a year die’ in cancer shambles

THREE thousand Britons a year die because of a lack of lung cancer treatment, it emerged yesterday.

Vital areas of care are "woefully inadequate" and there are shortages of key surgical staff, according to new research.

A review has revealed a shambolic postcode lottery where treatment varies from one part of Britain to another.

In some areas, fewer than one in TEN patients get any kind of treatment at all and there are "huge variations and vast inequalities" in others, the UK Lung Cancer Coalition reported after a review of services.

There are only 44 thoracic surgeons - specialists in chest problems including lung conditions - spread thinly over 240 cancer teams.

The NHS is failing to fast-track thousands of patients to consultants every year or prescribe them life-prolonging drugs.

And a third of people stricken by lung cancer never have biopsies carried out.

Dr Mick Peake, head of the UKLCC's clinical advisory group, said: "Alarmingly, patients who are fit for surgery are being turned down.

"We are calling for a 70 per cent active treatment rate across the board, which would mean a massive reduction in the number of deaths. Up to 3,000 lives could potentially be saved each year."

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK with around 39,000 diagnosed each year.

The UKLCC's chairman Dame Gill Oliver said: "We are still letting down lung cancer patients."
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Source: The Sun