A report by Cancer Research UK has highlighted regional variations in the diagnosis of cancer across England following a review of cases in 2012 and 2013.
Figures collated by the charity show that there are significant regional variations in the stages at which various cancers are identified.
The figures below show the best and worst areas for early diagnosis (percentages of late stage diagnoses):
The Worst Areas for Early Diagnosis
- Merseyside – 49%
- Greater Manchester – 48%
- Durham, Darlington and Tees – 48%
The Best Areas for Early Diagnosis
- Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire – 40%
- Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly – 43%
- East Anglia – 44%
Sarah Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, said that the research showed people were being diagnosed later than they should be and that it was “unacceptable” to see such variation across England. She described the data as indicating “widespread problems” as too many patients were being diagnosed later than they should be.
Survival for some of the most common types of cancer is higher when diagnosed in the earlier stages, and Cancer Research UK has indicated that if all regions performed at the same level as the South West by diagnosing cancer early, then patients would be far more likely to be successfully treated.
If all regions matched the South West’s rates of early diagnosis over the next two years, nearly 20,000 more sufferers would be diagnosed at stage 1 or 2 of the disease, instead of stage 3 or 4, when it becomes more advanced and treatment becomes less successful.
Sean Duffy, NHS England's national clinical director for cancer, said the health service was working together to "deliver" on what was promised in the strategy that was proposed by the independent cancer taskforce in July of this year. The strategy detailed 6 strategic priorities, the second of which was to drive a national ambition to achieve earlier diagnosis.
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