Early Diagnosis Initiative

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We know that this is an especially worrying time so we have created a key messages document for Health Professionals focussed on safety netting patients presenting with symptoms during the coronavirus outbreak. We have also created a page on the subject specifically for patients on our about cancer hub. We will update that information as guidance changes.

Safety netting patients during the COVID-19 pandemic recovery phase



Summaries of the latest earlier diagnosis news and activities.

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The earlier the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of survival. This is a key part of our strategy to improve cancer survival and reduce the number of people dying from the disease.

Cancer Research UK has been working in the field of early diagnosis for more than a decade.  This was initially as part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) introduced following the Cancer Reform Strategy for England in 2007. Since 2014, we have also significantly invested in Early Detection research. We champion an evidence-based approach to identifying and embedding the developments that are needed to secure a meaningful reduction in the diagnosis of late stage disease through earlier disease detection.

We operate across the entire diagnostic pathway, and with researchers, the public, patients, health professionals and key opinion leaders to drive high-quality research and the implementation of evidence into policy and practice, to achieve improved outcomes for patients. We work in partnership with a wide range of organisations in delivering this work.

There is a lot of interest in improving cancer outcomes through moving patients from a late stage diagnosis to an earlier one. But the challenge is knowing what exactly is needed in order to achieve this.

What is clear is that there is no one thing – achieving early diagnosis is a complex problem; we need action and research if we are to make a real, significant difference and achieve our ambitious ambitions. This is fundamental to CRUK’s approach to Early Detection and Diagnosis.

The CRUK Early Diagnosis Waterfall diagram has been developed to help articulate the things we think will help to reduce the burden of late stage cancer. It’s built on data where possible – such as estimates of the impact of different screening interventions – and expert input where it is not. It reinforces that no one thing will achieve stage shift; we need coordinated action at all levels to make the difference. We’ve found our waterfall to be a useful conversation starter, and an excellent prompt for further questions and discussions. We will continue to horizon scan and keep the waterfall up to date as more evidence arises and are keen to continue to be as responsive as we can to suggestions for how it can be improved and built upon.