Joseph Neale is living proof that lung cancer can affect anyone at any time. The 20-year-old was stunned to learn one day that he had a tumour that had metastasized. Two thirds of his right lung had to be removed. After the shock of such a diagnosis, patients need concrete answers readily available to answer the question “what now?”
This year our work in lung cancer has been strengthened by our ongoing commitment to the Completing the Circle initiative, one aimed at bridging the gaps in lung cancer care.
What we know
- Detecting lung cancer early is the best way to survive the disease. Unfortunately, because the disease is typically asymptomatic until it is in the late stages, early detection is uncommon. 78% of lung cancer are diagnosed once the tumour has spread beyond the original tumour site.
- The emergence of molecular diagnostic testing in lung cancer and the promise of new targeted drugs are offering new and much-needed hope for patients with this devastating disease.
- There remain many challenges in achieving earlier detection and better patient outcomes.
To address these challenges, we need to improve communication; provide better resources for patients and caregivers; develop knowledge transfer strategies to implement effective change in practice; and establish a more cohesive network of health-care providers who work in the fields of oncology, pathology, respirology, thoracic surgery and others.
This past year we have started to develop a more comprehensive Patient Engagement Strategy. Interviews were conducted with patients and family members by Dr. Margaret Fitch, an expert in lung cancer research. This work provided us with a deeper understanding about the experiences of lung cancer patients and their caregivers.
We also hosted a Lung Cancer Forum that brought together patients and health-care providers to discuss findings from the study and to generate ideas for future action, such as health-care professional education and the development of patient/family information materials.
Completing the Circle will help patients like this know what to expect after a lung cancer diagnosis – and more importantly – to know that they are not alone.
“Hearing my diagnosis was a huge shock. It was like getting a life sentence for me. I felt I was close to the next journey of my life…what happens now?” – lung cancer patient
A Lung Cancer Summit that brought together health-care professionals from across Ontario
Evidence-based patient submissions on promising new treatments
Development of a comprehensive needs assessment
Establishment of a Lung Cancer Medical Advisory Group