Data from Public Health England shows that patients diagnosed through screening, GP referral or two-week referrals are likely to have more treatment options
The data links individual patients’ route to diagnosis, including screening, GP referrals, and emergency presentations as well as the treatment they are likely to receive.
Those diagnosed through screening were likely to have the most treatment options available and receive treatments aimed at curing the cancer, in particular surgery to completely remove the tumour.
This new finding strongly supports the benefits of screening as a way of diagnosing cancer early. The evidence suggests that diagnosing cancer in this way could lead to better patient outcomes and ultimately saving more lives.
While the percentage of cancers diagnosed through emergency presentations is improving – falling from 24% in 2006 to 20% in 2015 – the data shows 44% of breast, colon and rectal cancer patients diagnosed in this way may miss out on potentially curative treatments compared to those who are detected through a screening programme.
Dr Jem Rashbass, cancer lead at Public Health England said: “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. It reinforces the importance of early diagnosis, be that through screening or GP referral – the earlier you get diagnosed with cancer the better.
“It’s important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine, or a change to your usual bowel habits. If you have any concerns, always speak to your GP.”
The new data builds on the knowledge of PHE’s national cancer registry. It follows the recent release of data published in partnership with Cancer Research UK that shows how chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery rates vary for different groups of patients in England.