Why is early diagnosis important?
Finding and treating cancer at an early stage can save lives.
Cancer that’s diagnosed at an early stage, when it isn’t too large and hasn’t spread, is more likely to be treated successfully. If cancer spreads, effective treatment becomes more difficult, and generally a person’s chances of surviving are much lower.
How early diagnosis can improve survival
Below are some examples of how spotting cancer early can make a real difference:
More than 9 in 10 bowel cancer patients will survive the disease for more than 5 years if diagnosed at the earliest stage.
More than 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive their disease for at least 5 years compared to around 15% for women diagnosed with the most advanced stage of disease.
90% of women diagnosed with the earliest stage ovarian cancer survive their disease for at least 5 years compared to around 5% for women diagnosed with the most advanced stage of disease.
More than 80% of lung cancer patients will survive for at least a year if diagnosed at the earliest stage compared to around 15% for people diagnosed with the most advanced stage of disease.
Why are some cancers diagnosed late?
- Low awareness of cancer signs and symptoms can mean that people don’t realise that a symptom is important, or that they should see their doctor about it.
- Some people might put off seeing a doctor for various reasons, including things like being worried about what they might find.
- There can be delays in GPs referring patients on for tests or treatment.
- Delays can occur in getting an appointment at the hospital.