Thursday 20 June 2019

Lung cancer diagnosis too late for one in five who die within 30 days of discovery

The lung cancer patient was testifying about the dangers of secondhand smoke Stock Image: PA
The lung cancer patient was testifying about the dangers of secondhand smoke Stock Image: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

One in five patients diagnosed with lung cancer over a number of years died within 30 days, according to research.

The research looked at 13,845 people found to have the illness in Ireland between 2005 and 2012.

Older patients, aged 80 years and over, who also had other illnesses and were admitted to A&E departments at diagnosis were most likely to die within 30 days.

Patients who were younger, did not have other diseases and had a planned admission to hospital had longer survival times, the study, led by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland and published in BMC Palliative Care, revealed.

A separate report by the National Cancer Registry and the Irish Cancer Society recently revealed that around 3,000 patients with various cancers are finding out they have the disease for the first time in A&E departments.

The new study pointed to a lack of access to cancer diagnostics, which was a recognised shortcoming in the Irish health system.

Since the period of the study, HSE-run rapid access clinics have been set up.

These allow patients with potential symptoms of lung cancer to be referred for examination and investigation.

But there remain delays for access to these services.

The study, which was aimed at providing more insights into palliative care needs, found only 16pc of the short-term survivors received tumour-directed treatment post-diagnosis.

This compared with 72pc of the longer-term survivors.

The report added: "Increasing survival time was associated with a steady increase in the percentage receiving treatment.

"Survival time is affected by many factors, including patient age, functional status, tumour stage at diagnosis, and the treatment modalities available to treat disease."

Around 2,500 Irish people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.

In recent years, lung cancer cases have been falling among men but the disease is increasing among women.

Most people who get lung cancer are over the age of 50 and the vast majority are linked to smoking.

Symptoms include a persistent cough, breathlessness, coughing up blood and unexplained tiredness.

Irish Independent

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