One in three die within 90 days of lung cancer diagnosis finds research
One in three people in Britain die of lung cancer within 90 days of being diagnosed, a new research published in the British Medical Journal has revealed.
The study was carried out at Nottingham University and led by respiratory physician Dr Emma O’Dowd, who blamed GP’s unable to recognise symptoms of the disease until it is too late.
Figures show one in 20 individuals were diagnosed with lung cancer only after they had died, while just over ten per cent died within a month of being told they had the ailment.
Smoker’s cough is regularly misdiagnosed in patients with lung cancer, who are not put for an X-ray as a result.
Dr O’Dowd said: “GP’s needed better help in recognising and diagnosing those at a high risk of lung cancer, such as access to diagnostic software.”
The data came from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), which contains the health records of millions of UK primary care patients.
Dr O’Dowd and her team analysed 20,140 anonymous cases of lung cancer seen at 440 GP surgeries between 2000 and 2013. The study found 1,071 had been diagnosed at death, 2,036 had died within 30 days of diagnosis and 2,976 had died between 31 and 90 days after diagnosis.
The research also revealed that deceased patients had visited their GP an average of five times in the months before diagnosis. This ruled out the common misconception that those with lung cancer were not attending their GP early enough for help.
Dr O’Dowd empathised that it was “key” to find out what symptoms patients were displaying in their consultations and how they could be better linked to lung cancer by GPs in the future.
The research has been welcomed in the medical community with Dr Michael Peake, honorary consultant at the University of Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital, agreeing that GPs needed better tools to support their clinical decision making and notice “at risk” patients earlier.
Professor from the University of Liverpool John Field stated: “The paper supports the argument that we do need to do a great deal more for potential lung cancer patients than what is provided at present.”
Lung cancer kills more than 35,000 people a year and is the biggest cause of cancer-related deaths in the UK.