Lung cancer survival rates above average at the West Suffolk Hospital – but respiratory consultant highlights the importance of early diagnosis

In the Royal College of Physicians National Lung Cancer Audit annual report 2018 the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust demonstrated a 40.1% one-year survival rate for lung cancer, one of the most common and serious types of cancer.

This is a higher survival rate than the average in the East of England and the rest of the country (34.6% and 37% respectively).

Dr Thomas Pulimood, respiratory consultant at WSFT, said: “We’re pleased with these results and will continue to try and improve care and survival rates of lung cancer patients at our Trust. A team of specialists from different departments work together to diagnose and plan the best course of treatment for our patients, so it really is a team effort to achieve good these cancer outcomes.”

Lung cancer mainly affects older people. Around 47,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year in the UK, but more than four out of 10 people diagnosed are aged 75 and older. Therefore, with a particularly elderly local population to care for in West Suffolk, Dr Pulimood urges the community to be on the alert to early symptoms of lung cancer for the best chance of survival.

He continued: “Lung cancer does not usually cause noticeable symptoms until it has spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body. Therefore, the outlook for this condition is sometimes not as positive as with other types of cancer. Early diagnosis, however, can make a big difference.

“There are usually few or no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms including a persistent cough and breathlessness, chest infections that keep coming back, coughing up blood, and an ache or pain when breathing or coughing. If you have any of these symptoms you should contact your GP.”

Although anyone can develop lung cancer, smoking is the most common cause. It is responsible for more than 70% of cases. This is because smoking, including cigarettes, cannabis and passive smoking, involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxic substances.

Dr Pulimood said: “Of course, prevention is always better than cure, and the best way to avoid getting lung cancer is to stop smoking. I’d recommend the local support and advice available through One Life Suffolk, which provide a supportive behaviour change stop smoking programme. You are four times more likely to stop smoking if you have their support than going it alone.”

Visit to find a local Stop Smoking appointment.

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