Patients are three times more likely to survive some of the most common cancers if the disease is diagnosed in the early stages.
The figures, from Cancer Research UK, 80% of patients survive for at least 10 years when the disease is diagnosed at stage one or two – the earlier stages of the disease. Survival falls to around 25% in patients who are diagnosed at stage three or four.
These people had one of eight common cancers: bladder, bowel, breast, cervical, womb, malignant melanoma, ovarian and testicular cancers, which together account for more than 40% of all cancer cases in the UK.
Responding to the findings, Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK’s GP expert, said that diagnosing cancer early “isn’t always easy – the symptoms may be vague or similar to less serious conditions, so cancer isn’t always the first thing you or your doctor considers”.
The new cancer strategy, along with the recently-updated NICE referral guidelines for suspected cancer, will result in earlier referral to a specialist, and will contribute to a higher proportion of patients with cancer being diagnosed at an earlier stage with more favourable results,” he added.
The stage of a cancer is based on how large the tumour is and how far it has spread in the body.
Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of early diagnosis, said: “Thanks to research, cancer survival has doubled in the last 40 years. But one in two people will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives.
“These figures show the prize on offer if we can diagnose more cancers earlier,” she added.