Cancer diagnosis and treatment statistics

Routes to diagnosis

'Two-week wait' is the most common route to diagnosing cancer

Patient Experience

Cancer patients rating their care very good or excellent, 2015, England

Around a third (34%) of cancer cases in England are diagnosed via the ‘two-week wait’ referral route.[1] Almost 6 in 10 (57%) of these cases with known stage are diagnosed early (stage I or II).[2]

A quarter (25%) of cancer cases in England are diagnosed following a routine or urgent GP referral (but not under the ‘two-week wait’ referral route).[1] Almost 6 in 10 (58%) of these cases with known stage are diagnosed early (stage I or II).[2]

Around a fifth (21%) of cancer cases in England are diagnosed after presenting as an emergency.[1] More than three quarters (77%) of these cases with known stage are diagnosed late (stages III or IV).[2] Around two thirds (65%) of emergency presentation cases are via Accident and Emergency (A&E), with the other cases coming via an emergency GP referral, inpatient referral or outpatient referral.[3]

Around 5 in 100 (6%) cancer cases in England are diagnosed by screening.[1] Around 9 in 10 (88%) of these cases with known stage are diagnosed early (stage I or II).[2]

There are variations in routes to diagnosis by sex, age, deprivation and ethnicity.[4]

All Cancers (C00-C97 Excl. C44C), Percentage of Cases by Route to Diagnosis, Adults Aged 15-99, England, 2012-2013

All Cancers (C00-C97 Excl. C44C), Percentage of Cases by Stage for each Route to Diagnosis, Adults Aged (15-99), England, 2012-2013

References

  1. National Cancer Intelligence Network. Routes to Diagnosis 2006-2013 workbook (a). London: NCIN; 2015.
  2. National Cancer Intelligence Network and Cancer Research UK. Routes to diagnosis of cancer by stage, 2012-2013 workbook. London: NCIN; 2016.
  3. National Cancer Intelligence Network. Routes to diagnosis 2006-2013 workbook (b). London: NCIN; 2016.
  4. National Cancer Intelligence Network. Routes to diagnosis Site Specific Data Briefings 2006-2013. London: NCIN; 2016.
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'14-day / Two-week wait'

England meets the standard for their country on the percentage of patients first seen by a specialist within two weeks of urgent GP referral for suspected cancer.[1]

'Two-week wait' supports early diagnosis as spotting cancer early is important for improving survival, so it is important that patients with potential cancer symptoms are referred promptly.

'31-day wait'

England and Scotland meet the standard for their country on the percentage of patients that receive their first cancer treatment within 31 days of a decision to treat, while Northern Ireland and Wales do not meet the standard for their country.[1-4]

The speed at which patients receive their first treatment can have a positive outcome on their clinical outcome, so it is important that patients with cancer symptoms are treated promptly.

'62-day wait'

None of the countries in the UK meet the standard for their country on the percentage of patients receiving their first definitive treatment for cancer within two months of a GP referral for suspected cancer.[1-4]

The speed at which patients receive their first treatment can have a positive outcome on their clinical outcome, so it is important that patients with cancer symptoms are treated promptly.

Cancer waiting times coding and standards are different in each country and so comparisons should not be made between countries, only each country against their own measures.

All Cancers Waiting Times, UK countries, 2014-2015

    England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland
'14-day wait': seen by specialist following referral Performance 94.2%      
Standard 93%      
Performance against standard Meets standard      
'31-day wait': receipt of first treatment following decision to treat Performance 97.6% 97.3% 96.7% 96.2%
Standard 96% 98% 95% 98%
Performance against standard Meets standard Does not meet standard Meets standard Does not meet standard
'62-day wait': receipt of first treatment following referral Performance 83.2% 96.1% 93.1% 72.6%
Standard 85% 95% 95% 95%
Performance against standard Does not meet standard Does not meet standard Does not meet standard Does not meet standard

Data not available for 14 day wait in Wales, Scotland or NI.

References

  1. NHS England. Cancer waiting times. Accessed May 2015.
  2. StatsWales. Cancer waiting times. Accessed May 2015. 
  3. ISD Scotland. Cancer Waiting Times. Accessed June 2015. 
  4. Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. Cancer Waiting Times. Accessed June 2015.

 

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89% of all cancer patients rate their care as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.[1Patient experience varies with individual needs and concerns, which are influenced by many aspects of personal background, disease characteristics and the care environment.

85% of patients were given the name of a Clinical Nurse Specialist in charge of their care.[1] Being given the name of a Clinical Nurse Specialist in charge of a patients’ care is the factor most likely to be associated with high patient satisfaction scores.[2]

61% said they saw their GP once or twice before being told they had to go to hospital.[1] How often a patient sees their GP before being referred to hospital varies by cancer type depending on ease of diagnosis.[3]

All Cancers, Patient Experience Survey, by Sex, England, 2014

Female Male Persons
Percentage of patients treated for cancer who visited their GP once or twice about the health problem caused by their cancer 66.2% 56.1% 61.4%
Percentage of patients treated for cancer who said they were given the name of a Clinical Nurse Specialist in charge of their care 87.1% 83.3% 85.3%
Percentage of patients treated for cancer who rated their overall care as excellent or very good 88.5% 89.5% 89.0%

Last reviewed:

Routes to diagnosis statistics were calculated from cases of cancer registered in England which were diagnosed in 2012-2013. Staging proportions only include patients with a known stage (cases with an unknown stage at diagnosis are not included in the denominator).

Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. All cancers combined includes ICD-10 C00-C97.

Patient Experience data is for adult patients in England with a primary diagnosis of cancer, who were in active treatment between September and November 2013 and who completed a survey in 2014.

Local Cancer Statistics

Find and compare local statistics and information in the UK by healthboard, Local Authority or postcode.

Cancer Statistics Explained

See information and explanations on terminology used for statistics and reporting of cancer, and the methods used to calculate some of our statistics.

Citation

You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK statistics content for your own work.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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