LUNG cancer patients experience better outcomes when they are cared for by lung cancer nurse specialists (LCNS), according to researchers from the University of Nottingham and London South Bank University (LSBU), UK. The findings emphasis the important role of specialist cancer nurses and suggest that increasing their numbers would have major benefits for the health system.
Specialist Cancer Nurses
Previous studies have shown that care from specialist nurses improves patient satisfaction and quality of care, but there is little information on how this impacts outcomes such as life expectancy. Using anonymised patient healthcare records of more than 100,000 lung cancer patients diagnosed between 2007 and 2011 and a nationwide survey of 200 LCNS, the team analysed the effect of care from an LCNS on outcomes for these patients.
Reduced Risk of Death
They found that lung cancer patients receiving either radiotherapy or chemotherapy had a lower risk of early death or emergency admission if they were assessed and cared for by a LCNS, with early contact achieving the best results. There was a 17% reduced risk of death in the first year for those treated with radiotherapy among those assessed by a specialist nurse compared with those who did not, while there was a lower mortality risk when nurses reported confidence in working with multi-disciplinary teams.
The findings also demonstrate that LCNS assessment early on after diagnosis makes a substantial difference. There was a strong association between a lower risk of emergency cancer assessments and patients given early LCNS assessment, both those receiving surgery and those not, for example, patients receiving palliative care.
Prof Alison Leary, LSBU, commented: “This work shows the real tangible benefit of advanced practice nursing in cancer. It is clear that receiving care from a lung nurse specialist is fundamental to better outcomes for patients and families. Patients with LCNS not only had a lower risk of dying, but also had a lower risk of being admitted to hospital unnecessarily.”
Investing in Nurses
The results therefore indicate that increasing the number of LCNS could help alleviate the burden lung cancer places on the health system as well as improve outcomes for individual patients.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.