Lung Cancer - West Yorkshire and Harrogate's Biggest Cancer Killer

The latest available data (2017) shows that the age standardised mortality rate for lung cancer is higher than any of the other major tumour groups in West Yorkshire and Harrogate, and that this picture is reflected across England.

Smoking rates are above the national average (16.7%) at 18.5%, meaning there are around 450,000 smokers in the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance area.

Smoking rates are above the national average in all local places in West Yorkshire except Airedale and Harrogate.

The health and care system through the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership is taking a systematic approach to diagnosing lung cancers at an earlier stage, thereby making more cancers curable.

Although the data shows that one-year survival for lung cancer remains low compared to other tumour groups, one-year survival for lung cancer in West Yorkshire and Harrogate is higher than any of the other Cancer Alliances in the  north of England, is higher than the England average and is improving year on year.

Lung cancer incidence is directly related to smoking and therefore tobacco use is the most important preventable cause of lung cancer in the UK. In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, it is estimated that tobacco addiction caused over 2,300 cancers in 2010. Smoking rates are above the national average (15.5%) at 18.6%, meaning there are around 351,000 smokers in the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance area. Smoking rates are above the national average in all local places in Yorkshire except Harrogate.

There is now robust evidence that earlier diagnosis can be effectively encouraged through a combination of offering lung health checks to high risk areas, public awareness, clinician education and better access to diagnostic testing.

Cancer and Covid-19

lung cancer 1.jpgAt best, lung cancer symptoms can be vague and easily attributed to something else, especially at the moment, during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in order for lung cancer to be diagnosed as soon as possible, it is vital that people are aware of the signs and symptoms that could be lung cancer, and that they contact their doctor quickly and are able to ask for further tests when needed.

Picture, right, courtesy of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has launched a campaign called Still Here and is using Lung Cancer Awareness Month to remind people that the disease hasn't gone away and that people shouldn't hesitate to get checked out if they are worried.

Tackling Lung Cancer Pilot Programme

National Cancer Transformation Funding has been used to undertake a Tackling Lung Cancer pilot programme in Bradford and Wakefield. Both localities have a combination of poor clinical outcomes and high smoking prevalence.

"If I hadn't gone for that scan, I could be dead in a year's  time," says lung patient Bill, pictured left.

Click on the image to watch the short film of Bill's Story  (featured on the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation  website) about his experience of having a lung health check.

Click here to learn more about the West Yorkshire and Harrogate pilot programme, which included targeted invitations to lung health checks for those most at risk and the use of community-based low dose CT scanning, where indicated. There is an added benefit of detecting significant other non-cancer diagnoses, with more lung cancers diagnosed overall and at an earlier stage offering surgical treatment.

Targeted Lung Health Checks - National Roll-Out

Earlier diagnosis is a key part of improving survival rates. It means patients can receive treatment when there is a better chance of achieving a complete cure. The NHS Long Term Plan outlines a range of developments that will transform cancer care so that from 2028, an extra 55,000 people each year will survive for five years or more following their cancer diagnosis and three in four cancers (75%) will be diagnosed at an early stage.

Those developments include Targeted Lung Health Checks in a number of areas around the country where patients are at the highest risk of developing lung cancer. They are invited for a lung 'MOT' and where appropriate, an on-the-spot chest scan. 

More information about the Targeted Lung Health Check project in West Yorkshire and Harrogate - temporarily paused during the first months of the Covid pandemic - will be available here shortly.

Support For Primary Care In Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

The role of GPs is crucial in early diagnosis of lung cancer - identifying smokers and others at risk, recognising symptoms and signposting to specialist advice and other support services.

An online cancer education website, already being used across the UK, is one of a range of resources available to primary care staff and is now available for free to professionals across the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance.

GatewayC is an interactive online portal with a range of courses supporting work around early diagnosis and living with and beyond cancer, and key areas including lung and colorectal cancers. The learning is designed to support primary care staff in the early detection of cancer, support the achievement of the 28 and 62 day national cancer standards, and improve the patient experience of the referral process.

Click here to find out more.