A University research study has found that specialist lung cancer nurses could be putting patients in a stronger and healthier position to cope with the rigorous course of treatment that they undergo.
The study by Sheffield Hallam University's Centre for Health and Social Care Research (CHSCR) found Lung Cancer Nurse Specialists (LCNS) can identify and provide symptom relief at the early stages of the disease and could therefore be giving patients a better chance of being fit enough to be able to access the treatment available.
Reviews of four different health trusts were carried out as part of the study, funded by the General Nursing Council Trust, to look at how nurse specialists operate within different models of care and how they affect the patient pathway and the level of access to treatment.
The research has been conducted in partnership with the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses. It follows on from the 2010 UK Lung Cancer Audit that showed 64% of patients who were seen by a specialist nurse received anti-cancer treatment as opposed to only 30% of those who were not.
"All lung cancer patients deserve to have the option to be able to access treatment," said Professor Angela Tod of Sheffield Hallam's CHSCR.
"One of the problems at the moment is that sometimes patients feel too unwell to undergo treatment but, if their symptoms are managed well, more patients will be eligible for treatment. LCNSs are highly skilled in symptom management and this may be one of the ways they can help patients access treatment.
"We also found that specialist nurses help to tackle misconceptions around the risks and expectations of cancer treatment. They get to see the patient across the entire pathway, rather than at intermittent points and are therefore in a good position to assess the general well-being of the patient and the impact the cancer and treatment will have on their lives."