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Almost half of patients with lung cancer are not seen by a nurse specialist, audit reveals

The latest national lung cancer audit found insufficient numbers of patients are seen by lung cancer nurse specialists.
Cancer nurse specialist

Nearly half of patients with lung cancer are not seen by a lung cancer nurse specialist, according to a national audit.

The National Lung Cancer Audit recommends that at least 90% of all patients should be seen by a lung cancer nurse specialist (LCNS), and 80% of patients should also have an LCNs present at the time of diagnosis

Yet the annual audit which looked at the treatment and care of 43,153 patients first diagnosed with lung cancer in England, Wales and Scotland in 2015 found that only 57% of patients were seen by a LCNS.

The percentage of patients seen by a LCNS fell from

Nearly half of patients with lung cancer are not seen by a lung cancer nurse specialist, according to a national audit.


Lung cancer nurse specialists like Connie Doria Tiburcio, pictured above at London’s Whittington Hospital, exemplify good practice. Photo: Tim George

The National Lung Cancer Audit recommends that at least 90% of all patients should be seen by a lung cancer nurse specialist (LCNS), and 80% of patients should also have an LCNs present at the time of diagnosis

Yet the annual audit – which looked at the treatment and care of 43,153 patients first diagnosed with lung cancer in England, Wales and Scotland in 2015 – found that only 57% of patients were seen by a LCNS.

The percentage of patients seen by a LCNS fell from 78% in last year’s report to 57%.

‘Highly variable’

Researchers said data completion for this part of the latest audit was ‘highly variable’ though and therefore, hard to interpret.

In Wales, 97% of cases had data regarding LCNSs and 91% of patients saw a LCNS.

But in England, data regarding LCNSs was only recorded in 60% of cases and based on these incomplete data, the researchers concluded that 55% of patients saw a LCNS.

Aintree University Hospital lung cancer nurse specialist Vanessa Beattie, the chairperson of the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses, called for more LCNSs to match the number of lung cancer diagnoses.

Point of contact

She said: ‘We are there to be the main point of contact for most of what that patient and their family go through and to do it properly and to provide a quality service, we need a sufficient number of LCNS.’  

The National Lung Cancer Audit was developed in response to the finding in the late 1990s that outcomes for lung cancer patients in the UK lagged behind those in other westernised countries, and varied considerably between organisations within the UK. 

The latest report recommended that LCNSs work with their data managers to ensure the data reflects their activity.

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