Some avenues to cancer diagnosis in the UK seem to be improving, with new data from Public Health England showing a shift in the way new cases are detected.
According to PHE’s Routes to Diagnosis data, the number of cases diagnosed in an emergency, which are linked with the worst outcomes, has fallen four percentage points in a decade, from 24 percent in 2006 to 20 percent in 2015.
Also, diagnoses via the urgent GP referrals channel has a signficant rise, from 25 percent to 37 percent, but the total number detected via screening programmes was just over five percent, increasing from just under 5 percent back in 2006.
Taking a closer look at the data, while the number of cervical cancer cases diagnosed through the urgent referrals channel has been on the rise since 2014, standing at around 24 percent in 2015, the number diagnosed through screening has fallen sharply since 2013, from around 36 percent to around 21 percent.
Diagnoses of colorectal cancers via the national bowel screening programme also remains at under 10 percent, although the number of cases diagnosed as an emergency has fallen to about 23 percent, while those detected via urgent GP referral climbed to around 32 percent in 2015.
In a news report published by Cancer Research UK, the charity’s chief executive Sir Harpal Kumar welcomed the cut in emergency diagnoses but stressed that more needed to be done.
“It’s critical that plans to boost numbers of NHS staff in diagnostic services are put into action without delay – otherwise we won’t be able to diagnose cancer as early as possible”.