Oncology

Forging alliances to combat lung cancer

Raising awareness for the early detection of lung cancer

5min
Kathrin Palder
Published on 8. Mai 2023
The Lung Cancer Policy Network is a worldwide network of leading cancer or lung cancer experts, patient organizations, low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening leads, and industry representatives with one goal: To persuade policymakers around the world to make improving survival from lung cancer a policy priority. Siemens Healthineers has joined the Network as part of its efforts to drive comprehensive cancer care. In an interview, Eleanor Wheeler, Associate Director of Research and Policy at The Health Policy Partnership, which provides the Secretariat for the Lung Cancer Policy Network, explains the rationale behind the Network and her hope to raise awareness globally for the early detection of lung cancer.  
<p>Founded in 2021, the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.lungcancerpolicynetwork.com/" target="_blank">Lung Cancer Policy Network</a> aims to create a lasting, international, multidisciplinary alliance of stakeholders working together to make lung cancer a policy priority worldwide, helping drive meaningful change for people with lung cancer.&nbsp;<br><br>The Network was initiated by the Lung Ambition Alliance (LAA) and contributes to its ambition of doubling lung cancer survival by 2025, as well as encouraging the early detection of lung cancer and the optimization of lung cancer care pathways. It is now a multi-funder initiative, with over 50 members from 19 locations around the world. The <a href="https://www.healthpolicypartnership.com/" target="_blank">Health Policy Partnership</a>(a specialist health policy research organization) acts as Secretariat for the Network and manages its governance and day to day activity.&nbsp;<br><br>We hope the Network’s activity will ultimately lead to earlier detection of lung cancer and improved treatment outcomes and quality of life for those affected by lung cancer.</p>

Eleanor Wheeler

The Network has a strong focus on sharing learning via discussion and collaboration with the Network members and bringing together disparate information to inform best practice. So far this has focused on advocating for the implementation of lung cancer screening via low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), in order to see increased early detection of the disease. 2023 sees the Network expand its focus to include the optimization of lung cancer care pathways; an important development as increased screening for lung cancer will mean it is more often detected at an earlier stage, so health systems will need to adapt and develop.
Lung cancer five year survival rate
The Network has a strong focus on sharing learning via discussion and collaboration with the Network members and bringing together disparate information to inform best practice. So far this has focused on advocating for the implementation of lung cancer screening via low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), in order to see increased early detection of the disease. 2023 sees the Network expand its focus to include the optimization of lung cancer care pathways; an important development as increased screening for lung cancer will mean it is more often detected at an earlier stage, so health systems will need to adapt and develop.
Lung Cancer Screening Stage Shift
<p>In 2022 the Network launched its <a href="https://www.lungcancerpolicynetwork.com/interactive-map-of-lung-cancer-screening/" target="_blank">Interactive map of LDCT screening implementation</a>, drawing together implementation research from around the world into one easily navigable resource. The research for this map, and the many case studies of implementation best practice, informed the publication of the Network’s inaugural report, <a href="https://www.lungcancerpolicynetwork.com/network-resources/" target="_blank">Lung cancer screening: learning from implementation</a>. We have recently, in March 2023, launched an Implementation framework and supporting online toolkit to support those involved in the planning of lung cancer screening programs around the world. We already have additional exciting activity in the pipeline for the coming months linked to the <a href="https://www.lungcancerpolicynetwork.com/implementation-toolkit/" target="_blank">implementation framework</a> as well as other areas of Network focus.</p>
<p>We are at an interesting juncture: at the end of 2022 we saw the shift in the EU screening guidelines to include lung cancer and have seen a number of countries either initiate or formally commit to implementation of LDCT screening. I think some of the current challenges are around how to ensure that we see this implementation replicated across other countries where LDCT is feasible, addressing barriers such as concerns about technical or workforce capacity, as well as ensuring engagement of key populations for screening. We are supporting this through our newly launched framework for implementation, which will enable those applying the framework to robustly plan for implementation and anticipate potential barriers early. This will enable them to engage policy makers with clear and well-evidenced asks.&nbsp;<br><br>There is a long-standing challenge around lung cancer being low down on the political agenda, and the Network is helping to address this through fostering international collaboration and developing consensus-based evidence and messaging. We hope that this systematic approach will ensure clarity of key messaging, and by working with many different organizations we can achieve an amplification of messaging that can be clearly heard by our policy audience.</p>
The Network’s members are masters of multi-tasking, somehow managing to juggle their day to day work with extensive additional contributions across the field of lung cancer. We are delighted to have a truly fantastic caliber of experts in the Network, and their drive and commitment is unparalleled. Whilst all members contribute their time for free, they do so incredibly generously, united under our common goal, and we are privileged that they engage so readily in the activities of the Network.
<p>Ideally, we would like to see lung cancer being detected and diagnosed at stage I to maximize the potential for curative treatment. The shift we need in the next five years, and where the Network is focused, is to increase awareness about the huge potential benefits of earlier detection through screening and encourage governments to think in a health-systems way in order to build care pathways that embed prevention and screening, and can ensure quality care, including optimal management of resources and capacity.&nbsp;<br><br>A shift we need to see is de-stigmatization of lung cancer, and it is positive to see the increasing recognition of the role that environmental factors, such as air pollution, play in increasing risk for lung cancer. The Network play a unique role in bringing together stakeholders from around the world, with highly relevant expertise to develop robust evidence that can be used by those wanting to advocate for lung cancer, as well as to inform policy makers on best practice.&nbsp;<br><br>The Network provides the evidence-base to accelerate action, and I think the momentum that the Network has already built up in its first two years looks set to grow as we build on this in 2023 and onwards.</p>

By Kathrin Palder

Kathrin Palder is an editor at Siemens Healthineers.