Lung cancer services redesigned

£3 million investment for accelerated treatment.

New lung cancer diagnostic services will help ensure patients receive faster access to treatment.

Lung cancer is Scotland’s most common cancer and the new services will ensure a faster process to help reduce patient anxiety as they and their families wait for a diagnosis. It will also reduce the risk of the cancer growing or spreading, and the risk of patients being unfit for effective treatment.

The redesigned services set timeframes for each step to enable a patient’s diagnosis by day 21 after referral and treatment for most to start by day 42, which is significantly more ambitious than current cancer waiting times standards.

Boards will use the money to re-align services so patients can receive multiple tests, where clinically appropriate, at the one time and reduce their visits to hospital and speed up diagnosis.

The nationally-developed lung cancer pathway, led by the Centre for Sustainable Delivery, is the first to be developed in Scotland and is being funded by £3 million from the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Earlier Programme.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Scotland with around 5,500 cases diagnosed each year. The number of new cases is predicted to increase by 29% for women and 12% for men by 2027. That’s why we have to do as much as we can to tackle this disease.

“This redesign means faster and more efficient treatment for lung cancer patients. Even in advanced disease, newer treatments have improved patient outcomes but are highly dependent upon the patient remaining fit enough to receive those treatments."

Dr Phil Hodkinson, Respiratory Physician and Joint Clinical Lead for Early Cancer Diagnosis at the Centre for Sustainable Delivery, said:

“The design of Scotland’s first national optimal cancer diagnostic pathway has been driven by lung cancer experts and NHS Scotland leaders. It is anticipated that, once implemented, this will increase efficiency of services and improve patient experience and outcomes for those affected by Scotland’s most common cancer.”

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Paula Chadwick said:

"We welcome the work to create an optimum lung cancer diagnosis pathway for Scotland. A clear, timely diagnosis with all necessary testing organised ensures patients have access to the right treatment as soon as possible, regardless of where they live. We support this initiative to ensure earlier, quicker diagnosis to improve the experience of patients and their families."


NHS Scotland Lung Cancer Diagnostic Pathway | The national C ( 

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Scotland with 3,874 deaths in 2020, accounting for 24% of all cancer deaths in 2020.

There are two waiting times standards for adults with a newly diagnosed primary cancer - 31-day target from decision to treat until first treatment, regardless of the route of referral; and a 62-day target from urgent referral with suspicion of cancer, including referrals from national cancer screening programmes, until first treatment.


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