HUNDREDS more patients in Scotland are receiving life-saving surgery for lung cancer than five years ago.

The Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank said resection rates had risen from 10% to 15%, with 7000 operations carried out since the service was launched in 2008.

All surgery for lung cancer is now carried out at the hospital, which has the UK's busiest thoracic unit.

Patients were previously treated at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary, the Western Infimary and Hairmyres Hospital.

Alan Kirk, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, said the change had created a "world-leading" service.

However, he warned that poor survival rates are not likely to improve until 2020, when the impact of men stopping smoking will start to take effect.

There are around 4600 cases of lung cancer each year in Scotland.

On average, because of late diagnosis, patients will live for just five months after diagnosis compared to nearly ten years for cancers affecting the bowel and breast.

Mr Kirk has urged public health officials to push a cancer health check being promoted in England. Anyone with a cough lasting more than three weeks is now being urged to see their doctor to rule out lung cancer, as part of the new campaign.

He said: "One of the reasons (lung cancer) doesn't do as well as other cancer is that it tends to present late.

"A typical story might be that Mr Smith has been coughing up blood, he will say 'Oh I thought that was normal, I'm a smoker..."

"Lung cancer patients are very passive. I don't know whether its because they feel guilty.

"We don't see the same sort of push for treatment.

"Until very recently, only about 1 in 10 lung cancer patients got an operation.

"Our lung re-section rates have now gone up to 15%.

"It may not sound a lot but it's a phenomenal number of patients and may well impact on the survival rates, which are poor.

"We have gone from three mediocre units to world leading.

"The concentration of resources, skills and expertise within the centre allows us to lead the way in terms of research, development and academic activity which ensures innovation and improvements in patient care.

"Surgical treatment for lung cancer and other thoracic diseases is undoubtedly improving and this, in turn, will lead to better survival rates in the future."

The hospital is also carrying out more keyhole procedures, which have led to shorter inpatient stays.

Mr Kirk said: "The average stay used to be 6 or 7 days, it's now down to 3 to 4 days.

"In America, patients are discharged after a day into a hostel or hotel next door. The model we have, with the Beardmore Hotel next door, would allow us to do that, getting inpatient stays down even more."