We were delighted to join the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and Bristol-Myers Squibb in parliament in November at the launch of their new report Gaining perspective: What can the UK learn from lung cancer care in Europe? The event was hosted by James Brokenshire MP as part of lung cancer awareness month and the discussion was chaired by Professor Michael Peake, Clinical Director, Centre for Cancer Outcomes, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The UK's current five year survival rate for lung cancer is around 4% lower than the rest of Europe. The paper has drawn on evidence from a number of European countries, providing recommendations for policymakers on several areas, including:
- Lung cancer referral and diagnosis
- Access to treatment
- Lung cancer workforce
College Fellow, Professor Andrew Nicholson, Consultant Histopathologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital, was one of the UK specialist reviewers of the report. We were also pleased to note that the findings from the College’s recent histopathogy workforce census were highlighted. Our census, Meeting pathology demand shows only 3% of NHS histopathology departments have enough staff to meet clinical needs. Histopathology is the specialty vital to cancer management from initial diagnosis to guiding patients’ treatment.
Dr Mike Osborn, Chair of the Cellular Pathology Specialty Advisory Committee, contributed to the discussion and emphasised the demands on the pathology workforce:
Pathologists play a crucial role in cancer prevention and diagnosis. Artificial Intelligence has the potential to greatly improve healthcare but it won’t solve all the problems - difficult cases will still need specialist input. Earlier diagnosis depends on having the right number of health staff in the right places.