NCDA Key Findings

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Full findings

To see all the findings of the National Cancer Diagnosis Audit

Read the paper

The most recent round of the National Cancer Diagnosis Audit (NCDA) combined data from primary and secondary care on patients diagnosed in 2014. The key findings from the English audit show:

  • 75.7% of patients had at least one co-morbidity
  • Most patients (72%) first presented at the GP surgery (or had a home visit)
  • 74% of patients were referred to a specialist after only one or two consultations; approximately 52% were referred through the Two Week Wait route
  • Primary care led investigations before referral were used in 45% of all patients
  • For 44% of patients, there was evidence in the clinical record that safety netting had been used
  • For one in five patients the GP considered there to have been an avoidable delay in the patient receiving their diagnosis

The National Cancer Diagnosis Audit (NCDA) collected data on 17 042 patients who were diagnosed with cancer in 2014 from 439 English practices.

The audit findings highlight that co-morbidities are common among people diagnosed with cancer. Most patients (76%) had at least one co-morbidity and one in five (21%) had 3 or more co-morbidities.

Most patients (72%) first presented at the GP surgery (or had a home visit) and only 7% of patients first presented at A&E.

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Three in four patients (74%) were referred to a specialist after only one or two consultations with a GP, and around half (52%) were referred through the Two Week Wait route. Most patients were referred promptly, as the median primary care interval (number of days from first presentation to first referral) was only 5 days.

Just under half (45%) of patients had investigations ordered by their GP before being referred, such as blood tests or scans.

The median diagnostic interval (number of days from first relevant presentation to the date of diagnosis) for all patients was 40 days.

For one in five patients (22%) the GP considered there to be an avoidable delay in the patient receiving their diagnosis. The audit showed that delay could happen anywhere on the patient pathway. Identifying where and how such delays happen can help to address any issues and speed up diagnosis in future.

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Safety netting was recorded for just under half (44%) of all patients.

The findings highlight examples of good practice, identify areas for quality improvement with the aim to help health professionals to diagnose cancer earlier. The data also provide a baseline for future audit of the impact of 2015 NICE guidance on management and referral of suspected cancer.

Read the full paper

See the supplementary tables

Cancer Research UK Facilitators and Macmillan GPs are available for in-depth discussions about the NCDA findings.

Find your local facilitator

Find your local Macmillan GP (not all areas in England will have a Macmillan GP)

Contact us

For questions and queries about the NCDA results, contact your local Cancer Research UK facilitator or email us

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