Specialist nurses improve outcomes for people with cancer

Patients assessed by lung cancer nurse specialists are likely to live longer, survey finds

Patients assessed by lung cancer nurse specialists are likely to live longer, survey finds

Picture: John Houlihan

Lung cancer patients are likely to live longer, avoid hospital admissions and cope better with the effects of treatment if they are cared for by specialist lung cancer nurses, according to researchers.

Academics at the University of Nottingham and London South Bank University carried out a survey of 200 lung cancer nurse specialists (LCNSs) across England. They also analysed the records of 100,000 people receiving treatment.

These two sets of findings, based on data gathered between 2007-11, informed assessments of the benefits of being cared for by LCNSs.

The research has yet to be published, but the University of Nottingham and charity Dimbleby Cancer Care, which funded the study, has released some of the initial findings in a press statement.

Researchers found patients who received radiotherapy following initial assessments by a LCNS were 17% less likely to die in the first year compared with those assessed by other health professionals.

The team led by University of Nottingham assistant professor Iain Stewart also observed a lower mortality risk for chemotherapy patients where their LCNSs reported being confident of working in multidisciplinary teams.

They also observed how early intervention by LCNSs led to a lower risk of emergency cancer admissions for surgical patients and for those receiving palliative care.

However, no statistics have yet been released on emergency cancer admissions or chemotherapy.


The National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses says the research shows there is a need for investment in the specialty.

Forum chair Vanessa Beattie said: ‘An increase in the LCNS workforce is required to continue to deliver the high-quality care reflected in this work.’

Professor Stewart told the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service conference last month (21 June) that the findings provide an evidence base for the benefits of specialist nurses to patients with cancer. 

He said: ‘Patient records from across the country demonstrated that timely nurse involvement and effective multidisciplinary team working can lead to a quantifiably better life with cancer.

‘It is essential that workforces are empowered to deliver the best care.’

London South Bank University healthcare workforce modelling chair Alison Leary, said: ‘It is clear that receiving care from a lung nurse specialist is fundamental to better outcomes for patients and families.’

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