'Shifting the Dial' on Lung Cancer

James Brokenshire has called for greater attention on early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer to improve outcomes for patients and achieve the ambitions set out in the health service’s long term plan. His comments came during last week's Queen’s Speech debate on the National Health Service. James also called for increased focus on the overall impact on people receiving a diagnosis and the pressures this places not just on them but their family and loved ones.

James’ speech comes nearly two years after his diagnosis of lung cancer which required surgery to remove the upper lobe of his right lung. James’ experience highlighted the key role of early diagnosis and treatment in improving survival rates which is something he has campaigned for ever since.

Highlighting the need to ‘shift the dial’ on lung cancer, James said:

“There are 47,000 cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year. Sadly, it is the biggest cancer killer, with around 35,000 people dying from lung cancer every year in the UK, equating to nearly 100 people every single day. Only 15% of people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive their disease for five years. That is an unacceptable figure. Why is it the case? Because far too many people are diagnosed in the late stage, when the disease has spread and the options are more limited.”

James welcomed the emphasis placed on the NHS in the Queen’s Speech with measures such as the Health Service Safety Investigations Bill which establishes a new independent healthcare safety investigation body to improve patient safety. James also recognised the introduction of innovative drugs and the £200 million investment for CT scanners and other diagnostic equipment which is so important to drive earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Speaking during the debate, James said:

“Over half of us here today will get cancer at some stage in our lives. That is why we need to change the terms of the debate and focus on getting earlier diagnosis and speedier treatment.”

“We also need to be more open and honest. Rather than talking about “the big C”, we should be looking at ways to discuss this far more openly. Through our investment, our plan and the steps set out today, we can turn the debate into one about cancer being a chronic disease that we can live well with and beyond.”

You can read the full transcript of James’ speech at:  

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-10-23/debates/75834D0D-E927-418D-A0A7-F46824ED348E/TheNationalHealthService#contribution-673066E4-F324-41B5-8782-A35460E62AF0

You can find out more about lung cancer and Lung Cancer Awareness month from The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation https://www.roycastle.org/