Copy of Early Diagnosis

The NHS Long Term Plan ambition is that:

  • By 2028, 75% of people will be diagnosed at an early stage (stage one or two).
  • 55,000 more people will survive for 5 years or more by 2028 following their cancer diagnosis

Patients who are diagnosed earlier have a better chance of being treated successfully for cancer and surviving for longer. This means that more cancers need to be detected at stages one and two through improved approaches to symptom awareness, recognition and detection.

We know that the risk of cancer depends on multiple factors including lifestyle, genetic predisposition, and environment. Four in ten cancers could be avoided by simple lifestyle changes such as:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Getting more exercise
  • Reducing our alcohol intake
  • Avoiding sunbed use and over exposure to the sun

Earlier diagnosis of cancer relies on two key interventions:

  1. Increasing the uptake and use of screening at targeted populations.
  2. Recognition of cancer symptoms in primary care, effective use of and access to diagnostics (including direct access for primary care) and appropriate onward referral, making the most of straight to test and urgent suspected cancer referral pathways.

Our activities include:

Getting people into the system: Timely presentation 

  • Regularly review data sources (including Cancer Alliance Data, Evaluation and Analysis Service (CADEAS) equity data packs) to support appropriate targeting in public messaging and engagement.
  • Use local knowledge to tailor communications to encourage timely presentation to local communities and priority groups.
  • Run local campaigns (that complement national activity) to raise public awareness of cancer symptoms and increase intention to act on cancer symptoms.
  • Use all available local / regional channels to amplify national campaigns and provide case studies to national team to support campaigns.
  • Continue to work with local charity partners to support public messaging and engagement, particularly for pathways that have seen referral volumes most challenged by COVID-19.
  • Continue to work with media colleagues on the production of media case studies to strengthen the profile of the importance of timely presentation and the early detection of cancer.

Getting people into the system: Effective primary care pathways

  • Work with our Primary Care Networks to deliver the actions set out in the Network contract Direct Enhanced Service (DES) to review and improve referral practice and to achieve improvements to early cancer diagnosis in primary care.
  • Work with our colleagues in primary care to establish universal coverage of clinical decision support tools by March 2023.

NHS Cancer Screening, targeted case finding and surveillance 

NHS Cancer Screening 

  • Compliance with three-year cycle in Breast screening.
  • Restoration of Bowel Screening in order to ensure roll out of age extension.
  • Maximise engagement with three cancer screening programmes

NHS Cancer Screening Targeted Lung Health Checks

  • Deliver agreed pilots and expansion of Targeted Lung Health Checks – LINK TO TLHC PAGE HERE

NHS Cancer Screening, targeted case finding and surveillance: Lynch

  • Ensure Lynch Syndrome testing in place for colorectal and endometrial cancer. – LINK TO PAGE HERE

Cancer Screening, targeted case finding and surveillance: Liver

  • Deliver liver surveillance projects with Operational Delivery Network.


Cancer Screening, targeted case finding and surveillance: 

  • Cytosponge – deliver cytosponge
  • Colon capsule Endoscopy - enable the roll out of Colon Capsule Endoscopy in the Lower GI pathway
  • FIT – implement clinical guidance to ensure all lower GI FDS referrals are accompanied by a FIT result, where clinically appropriate.