The need to centralise lung cancer surgery to within a limited number of specialist hospitals, which have recorded significant levels of activity in the field, has been confirmed by data analysis within the field of 13,000 Belgian cancer patients, amongst whom invasive lung cancer was diagnosed in 2010 or 2011. This is one of the conclusions a new report by the KCE (Belgian Healthcare Knowledge Centre), which has more broadly compiled a list of 23 “quality indicators” allowing evaluation of diagnosis and treatment within Belgium of patients suffering from lung cancer.
The quality of care is considered to be “overall good” within Belgian hospitals, but the quality indicators drawn from this should allow the profession to work towards improved care for such patients in the future. It emerges from the data that there are desirable improvements at the diagnostic phase. “For a third of patients, the time lag between the disease diagnosis and the beginning of treatment is greater than a month,” the KCE observes. Data recording on Belgium’s Cancer Register, by hospitals ought also to occur in a more comprehensive and accurate way, if we wish to be able to evaluate efficiently the overall quality of care in Belgium, as well as the specific action taken by every healthcare provider caring for a patient suffering from lung cancer.
The report also reinforces “the plea for centralised lung cancer care”. At the moment, “all patients receiving a cancer diagnosis may end up receiving care in almost any Belgian hospital, entirely independent of either the rarity or complexity of their particular case,” the KCE indicates. Moreover, “the death rate following surgical operations for lung cancer is greater in hospitals undertaking less than ten lung operations per year,” which applies for half of the hospitals that operated upon bronchial cancers in 2010-2011.