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Let's beat cancer sooner

November marks lung cancer awareness month, an important time to get people talking about the world’s biggest cancer killer.

A closer look at the ever-changing patterns of smoking rates in the UK shows the success, and challenges, for lung cancer. Our recent figures for men reveal that lung cancer rates have fallen by nearly half in the last 40 years. But for women, lung cancer rates are still on the up – hitting a worrying increase of three quarters in the last four decades.

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At the moment, more than two-thirds of patients are diagnosed at a stage when it’s too late for them to be offered treatment that could cure them. And fewer than 1 in 10 people diagnosed with the disease survive for at least five years after diagnosis.

Clearly this needs to change, which is why we’ve made lung cancer one of our big priorities. By boosting early diagnosis, continuing to tackle the deadly burden of tobacco, and investing in more research on the inner-workings of the disease we will make a difference.

To mark this year’s awareness month we’ve pulled together some key bits of information about lung cancer that we’ve been involved with this year – please share them as widely as you can. Only by moving the conversation around lung cancer from hushed whispers to informed action will we truly make an impact on this devastating disease.

Information and advice

Our patient information website has up-to-date, easy-to-understand pages about lung cancer, including what it is, its symptoms, how it’s diagnosed, the current treatments, and what it’s like living with the disease.

We also have a ‘key facts’ page as part of our Cancer Statistics sections.

And you can search for current lung cancer trials on our Trials Database.

New age of clinical trials

Just this week we wrote about how the way researchers design clinical trials is receiving an overhaul. Part of this change involves identifying the genetic faults present within a patient’s tumour and offering experimental targeted treatments to groups of patients whose tumours also carry that error.

The National Lung MATRIX trial is one example of this type of ‘basket trial’ that we are funding, which we hope will help identify new treatments and, perhaps most importantly, the precise group of patients who should be offered them.

You can also watch this animation about how the trial works.

Raising awareness

As part of a partnership with us, the Guardian published a number of articles about lung cancer research, treatments and clinical trials. You can also watch this video featuring Jim, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, and this animation covering “7 things you didn’t know about lung cancer”.

Diagnosing lung cancer earlier makes a big difference for a patient’s chances of survival, and news of the success of the recent Be Clear on Cancer campaign for lung cancer was a great example of how raising awareness of symptoms can make a real impact – read this blog post for more information.

We published this blog post from one of our colleagues about their personal story of their father who was diagnosed with lung cancer.

And we also teamed up with the prestigious journal Nature which published a series of articles on the big challenges facing lung cancer worldwide.

Research

You can read about the research we are funding on lung cancer here, and we also launched a new Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence that’s bringing together experts from Manchester and University College London to tackle lung cancer.

We’ve also published these blog posts exploring recent research on lung cancer:

  • In this post we take an in-depth look at a recent study where our scientists mapped the shape of a particular faulty molecule linked to lung cancer, which could be used to develop better treatments in the future.
  • A recent study from our scientists in London found that cells lining blood vessels may be helping lung tumours become resistant to treatment with the help of a molecule called FAK – read this post for more info.
  • And this post explores fascinating new research published last month on how the genetic faults found in lung cancer cells emerge before diagnosis and how they evolve over the course of the disease.

Lung cancer is a huge challenge, but we’re facing up to it. And it’s through a combined approach of more research, smarter clinical trials, improvements in early diagnosis, and a hard line on tobacco where we will see a real difference emerge for the patients and their friends and family who are dealing with the disease each day.

As a collective force, whether it’s through the work of our scientists or by simply sharing this information to raise awareness, we will make a difference.

Nick

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Comments

Lynn Biddick January 25, 2015

My husband died from lung cancer 5 years ago at the age of 52. He was a fit, non smoker who enjoyed exercise and a healthy diet. He had not been in environments where he would have been subjected to passive smoking. His father had died from skin cancer at a similar age and his grandmother from leukaemia. He had experienced pain in his chest on and off for four years before he was diagnosed but due to his healthy life style lung cancer never came into the equation with the medics. I continue to support Cancer Research but please when looking towards causes of lung cancer can you widen your research to go beyond unhealthy life styles always being the cause as in my husband’s case it clearly was not.

Nick Peel November 11, 2014

Hi Hannah, thanks for your comment. We’re really sorry to hear about your dad, but pleased you found the article useful.

Nick, Cancer Research UK

Hannah November 11, 2014

My Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer 3 years ago now and died less than 24 hours later. It had taken over most of his organs before we even knew. He was a healthy man and had no symptoms at all. Lung Cancer needs much more awareness, such an evil disease and low odds of survival. It shouldn’t be a lucky dip – this day and age with the technology we have – why haven’t we found a cure?! The article is really useful. Thank you.

Nick Peel November 10, 2014

Thanks for your comment Phil. We’re pleased you found the post useful.

Nick, Cancer Research UK

Phil Smith November 10, 2014

This is a really great article with a lot of detail about lung cancer and research – well done!

Barbara Love November 10, 2014

I’ve miraculously been diagnosed early not once but twice at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The first time was in 2002, the second in 2013. I had surgery both times, the second by the sainted Mr Lim at the Roysl Brompton who left me with the smallest scar imaginable and the freedom to focus on recovery from day1. I now operate with 3/5 lung capacity, go to the gym 3 times a week and am alive. Others are not so lucky. They need to be.

Andy Togneri November 9, 2014

I was diagnosed in 2009 and have just been given the “all clear” I know how lucky I have been and only hope others are as fortunate as I have been. Keep trying to find a cure for this evil disease.