The charity commissioned a two-year service quality audit of over 18,000 kidney cancer patients

The charity Kidney Cancer UK has, through its approach to NHS England, secured a commission for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to produce the first ever clinical guidelines for the condition.

The decision follows six years of research by the charity, working closely with experts across all aspects of kidney cancer care through its Kidney Cancer UK Accord group. The group, which includes leading kidney cancer surgeons, oncologists, clinical nurse specialists, patients and carers, commissioned a two-year service quality audit of over 18,000 kidney cancer patients, using data from NHS Digital. It is believed to be the largest kidney cancer audit ever conducted.

The results indicated significant levels of variation throughout the country and reinforced how vital it is that kidney cancer is diagnosed early and treatment begins as soon as possible.

The latest figures from Kidney Cancer UK’s patient survey reveal that 30% of patients wait for over three months from diagnosis to treatment commencing. The commission guidelines aim to have a positive impact on this proportion of patients.

Dr Kate Fife, consultant clinical oncologist at Cambridge University Hospital, Chair of the Kidney Cancer UK Accord Group, commented: “Our audit showed that, of those whose tumour stage was known, over 21% were diagnosed when tumours were generally not curable and only 25% of these patients survived for two years. If kidney cancer was diagnosed at early stages, when potentially curable, 87% of patients were alive at two years. This highlights the importance of early diagnosis.”

Professor Grant Stewart Professor of Surgical Oncology at the University of Cambridge, explained: “The report found wide variations in both surgical and drug treatment between the 21 cancer alliances and even more so between different hospital trusts.

“Similarly, the proportion of patients with metastatic renal cancer who received anti-cancer drugs varied from 40% to 70%. Once in place, these long overdue NICE guidelines will impact patients throughout their journey for the better and correct these inconsistencies.”

Kidney cancer patient and member of the Kidney Cancer UK Accord group, Geraldine Fox, reflected: “For so long kidney cancer has been the forgotten cancer. Of the ten most common cancers in the UK, all have regularly reviewed guidelines apart from the seventh, kidney cancer, which has been totally overlooked.”