EDAG funded projects and outputs

This is a selection of outputs from Early Diagnosis Advisory Group funded projects.

EDAG funds policy relevant research or activities that are adding to the scientific evidence base to achieve earlier diagnosis and enable access to treatment.

Educational differences in likelihood of attributing breast symptoms to cancer: a vignette-based study

Afrodita Marcu et al (2016) Psycho-Oncology doi: 10.1002/pon.4177

This study found that women with lower education had higher cancer avoidance and were less likely to mention cancer as a possible cause of breast symptoms. These results could be used to develop public health interventions aimed at encouraging prompt presentation for signs and symptoms of breast cancer within groups of women with lower education. For example, community based interventions, awareness roadshows and tailoring messaging around cancer avoidance.  

Is England closing the international gap in cancer survival?

Sarah Walters et al (2015) British Journal of Cancer 113(5):848-60. doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.265

This study found, in the context of strategic reform in cancer control, that cancer survival in England has increased since the mid-1990s. However, survival remains lower in England than in other comparable developed countries and, therefore, continued investment is needed to close this international survival gap.  

For which cancers might patients benefit most from expedited symptomatic diagnosis?

Willie Hamilton et al (2015) BMC Cancer 15: 820. doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1865-x

The study found the highest ranking cancers, for which expedited diagnosis would most likely provide the greatest mortality benefit, were breast cancer, uterine cancer and melanoma, while brain and pancreatic cancers ranked lowest in terms of potential mortality benefit. These results could be used to help target development of interventions aiming to improve symptomatic diagnosis, to the highest ranking cancers. In contrast, research efforts for the lowest ranking cancers could be re-directed towards alternative avenues more likely to yield benefits, such as screening and treatment.  

Is increased time to diagnosis and treatment in symptomatic cancer associated with poorer outcomes? Systematic review.

Richard Neal et al (2015) British Journal of Cancer 112, S92–S107. doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.48

This study found breast, colorectal, head and neck, testicular and melanoma cancers had the greatest number of reports showing an association between shorter times to diagnosis and more favourable outcomes. This is the first review of its kind to encompass many cancer types; as a result, the authors believe that efforts to expedite the diagnosis of symptomatic cancer could well lead to benefits for patients, including earlier stage diagnosis, greater survival, and improved quality of life. 

Use of the English urgent referral pathway for suspected cancer and mortality in patients with cancer: cohort study.

Henrik Møller et al (2015) BMJ 351:h5102 doi: 10.1136/bmj.h5102

This study concluded that use of the urgent referral pathway could be efficacious.  Analysis of the mortality of more than 200,000 patients with cancer in England showed that the propensity of general practices to use the urgent referral pathway for suspected cancer was associated with the mortality outcome of their patients. General practices that consistently have a low propensity to use urgent referrals could consider increasing the use of this pathway to improve the survival of their cancer patients. 

Applying symptom appraisal models to understand socio-demographic differences in responses to possible cancer symptoms

Katriina Whitaker et al (2015) British Journal of Cancer 112(Suppl 1): S27–S34 doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.39

The study found lower socioeconomic status, older age and males were all associated with lower health literacy generally and lower cancer symptom knowledge. A better understanding of the processes through which people interpret their symptoms, and the way these processes differ by sociodemographic factors, could help guide the development of interventions aiming to reduce inequalities in cancer outcomes.