Our policy on detecting cancer early
The early detection of cancer is critical to its successful treatment. At present, around 45% of patients are diagnosed at a stage when cancer can be successfully treated. Earlier diagnosis is likely to have an impact on cancer mortality, although this will vary from cancer to cancer, and is more achievable in some cancers than others.
The UK is often found to lag behind other comparable countries in Europe in terms of survival rates for cancer. Researchers working on a project looking at international differences in cancer survival, called EUROCARE, found that cancers in the UK were more likely to be diagnosed at a later ‘stage’ than our European counterparts. Late diagnosis is thought to contribute to this and so by achieving earlier presentation and diagnosis, it’s hoped that outcomes in the UK will be improved and differences between us and other European countries reduced.
The Cancer Reform Strategy announced a range of measures to improve the earlier diagnosis of cancer. These comprise:
- extending and widening cancer screening programmes
- raising public awareness of cancer, particularly among groups with traditionally low levels of awareness
- ensuring that primary care professionals are adequately trained to recognise the early symptoms of cancer and refer patients for further investigation without delay
We want the Government to ensure that all cancer patients are diagnosed as early as possible in their patient pathway, and that delays are not incurred because of diagnostic waiting times, limited access to the full range of diagnostic services, or pathology workloads.We want to see delays in presentation and referral reduced through increasing symptom awareness amongst not only the general public, but also GPs and hospital specialists.
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team