Lung cancer patients need better care

9th September 2021

Researchers based at the Cicely Saunders Institute have carried out an analysis of data of 472,259 people who died of lung cancer in England between 2001 and 2017 to find out how many of these patients had comorbidities such as chronic respiratory disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease (CKD), cardiovascular disease, and dementia.

The team carried out a population based patterns and trends analysis using ONS Mortality for England. ONS is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and is the recognised national statistical institute of the UK. The study determined actual and predicted patterns and trends in comorbidities for lung cancer decedents in England, UK. The findings provide valuable information for healthcare professionals, managers and policymakers when planning and delivering future cancer services.

Just under 20% of people who died of lung cancer had 1 comorbidity and just under 10% had two comorbidities. The most common comorbidities were COPD and cardiovascular disease.  Dementia and CKD had the greatest increase in prevalence between 2001 and 2017. The number of lung cancer decedents with multiple comorbidities is increasing over time. “By 2032 we anticipate that over 25% of all lung cancer patients with have at least 2 comorbidities at the end of life.”

“Present day healthcare systems where individual diseases determine models of service delivery often results in care that is fragmented, unsafe and inefficient for patients….attending hospital multiple times for different conditions can be burdensome … healthcare professionals lack sufficient time to provide high quality holistic care alongside anticancer treatment and monitoring.. new integrated models of care are urgently needed.”

The researchers conclude that in order to deliver high quality care to people with lung cancer, healthcare professionals need to work across traditional boundaries of care, to integrate care with other services such as dementia and CKD services.  

Henson LA, Chukwusa E, Ng Yin CL, Khan SA, Gao W. Lung cancer deaths (England 2001–2017)—comorbidities: a national population-based analysis. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care 2021;0:1–7. doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2021-003107