Early diagnosis of cancer saves lives and money


A report published by Cancer Research UK has found that 46% of cancers in England are diagnosed at an advanced stage costing the NHS over £210 million and costing approximately 52,000 lives each year.

The report found that the stage of diagnosis for various types of cancers differed greatly creating a disparity in health outcomes for various types of cancers. It is well documented that early diagnosis and early intervention for cancer increases the likelihood of treatment being effective and increased survival rates. This is due to the reduced chance of cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Once cancer has reached an advanced stage treatment also becomes expensive. The report estimates that the cost of treating late stage rectal, colon, lung and ovarian cancer is almost two and a half times more expensive compared to treating them at an early stage.

As previously reported, there is a difference between the amount of people being diagnosed with cancer at an early stage across the UK and this report further supports the need to improve diagnosis across the UK. There are a range of reasons why so many people are diagnosed with cancer late however this report highlights the need for further research into early diagnosis, giving doctors the necessary tools to identify cancer at the earliest possible stage.

Statistically, BME communities are less likely to be aware of early signs and symptoms of cancer and are therefore more likely to present their symptoms late. The fact that research has found that many cancers have been diagnosed later further widens the gap between BME communities and the general population. As a recommendation, the NHS has stated that the general public need to be aware of the signs and symptoms and seek medical help when any symptoms are observed. AHPN supports this recommendation but believes that more campaigns specifically targeted at BME communities also need to be developed, increasing awareness within these groups.