A new report launched today at the Davos Agenda week is calling upon governments to focus urgent attention on restoring lung cancer diagnosis and treatment in order to reduce further avoidable deaths.
The report, Learning Lessons from Across Europe – Prioritising Lung Cancer after COVID-19, highlights how, in just 12 months of the pandemic, lung cancer progress in diagnosis has been pushed back, with further impact on treatment likely the longer the pandemic continues.
Lung cancer is the largest cause of cancer deaths around the world, with over one million deaths per year. Exacerbating this impact, over 40% of countries report a complete or partial disruption to lung cancer services due to the pandemic. In response, the Lung Ambition Alliance and the World Economic Forum have launched a series of recommendations for governments and regulators on how to improve the short- and long-term resilience of lung cancer services, to ultimately improve patient outcomes.
The report was produced by the World Economic Forum and the Lung Ambition Alliance and supported by AstraZeneca in partnership with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC) and Guardant Health.
Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum said: “Producing and rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine within one year required public-private cooperation on a global scale – it showed what we can do together. This report highlights policy priorities that can be put into place so cancer patients can access the care they need. The pandemic has strained our health and health systems, but there are lessons that can be applied in parallel with treating COVID-19. We hope that the public and private sectors can work together in the year ahead.”
David Baldwin, Chair, UK Clinical Expert Group for Lung Cancer and Mesotheliomaand Report Taskforce member says, “We clinicians are seeing similar late presentations of lung cancer to those that were the norm 20 years ago. With disruptions at an unprecedented level, lung cancer patients simply can’t afford to have the clock wound back to where things were. We must redouble our efforts to diagnose patients early, by urgently restoring awareness and early diagnosis campaigns, rapid diagnostic and treatment pathways and approval of national lung cancer screening programmes. Patients deserve fresh investment and services to make up for lost time and accelerate innovation in lung cancer treatment options.”
Learning lessons from across Europe – prioritising lung cancer after COVID-19 makes the following recommendations:
In the short term:
· Symptom identification: The public and healthcare professionals need better information about how to spot the differences between COVID-19 and lung cancer so that people know which services to access
· Reassurance on safety: Patients need reassuring that services are safe for them to access and so there needs to be investment in COVID-19-free clinical spaces, with appropriate communication about how services are being kept safe
· Public awareness: There needs to be public health information campaigns about lung cancer to raise the public’s awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, and encourage them to seek help if they are concerned about their health
In the longer term:
· Screening and diagnosis: There needs to be investment in strategies to identify lung cancer patients more proactively, such as targeted screening programmes for those people at risk
· Robust data: Real time data collection and analysis is needed at a national and local level to identify and address the impact of COVID-19 on lung cancer patients
· Primary care capacity: There needs to be investment in capacity at a primary care level to ensure all patients with suspected lung cancer can be swiftly referred to specialist care
The report was developed by the World Economic Forum, who, in partnership with the Lung Ambition Alliance, launched a COVID-19 Taskforce in early 2020 amidst the outbreak of the pandemic.
Leading experts in health care provision, patient representation, policy and industry from across Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom) met regularly to discuss the current global healthcare environment and plan for the future in improving the resilience of lung cancer services.