Public Health England (PHE) has revealed new data showing that the way that cancer patients are diagnosed can affect their treatment options.

The national data links individual patients’ routes to diagnosis, including screening, GP referrals, and emergency presentations, with the treatment they go on to receive.

It shows that patients whose cancer was picked up through screening were likely to have the most treatment options available to them and receive treatments aimed at curing the disease, in particular surgery to remove the tumour.

This, says the agency, “strongly supports the benefits of screening as a way of diagnosing cancer early, which evidence suggests leads to better patient outcomes, ultimately saving lives.”

Patients diagnosed through screening, GP referral, or following an urgent two-week referral saw more potentially curative treatment compared to those diagnosed though an emergency presentation, PHE said, further highlighting the need for early detection.

The group noted that 44 percent of breast, colon and rectal cancer patients diagnosed through the emergency pathway may miss out on potentially curative treatments compared to those who are detected through a screening programme.

“This new data allows us to see clearly how the route through which someone is diagnosed with cancer affects the treatment that they go on to receive,” said Dr Jem Rashbass, cancer lead at PHE.

“It reinforces the importance of early diagnosis, be that through screening or GP referral – the earlier you get diagnosed with cancer the better.”