Early Diagnosis

Earlier diagnosis of cancer will save or extend more lives and improve quality of life for people affected by cancer.

SWAG Cancer Alliance is committed to improving outcomes through prevention and earlier detection of cancer. SWAG Cancer Alliance is working in partnership with the Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) across the Alliance to tackle the inequalities in cancer outcomes and support and empower local communities to reduce their risk of developing preventable cancers. This involves providing support to health professionals to detect and refer cancer early.

Our aim contributes to the overall NHS Long-Term Plan early diagnosis of cancer ambition that by 2028 the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stage one and two will rise to three quarters of all cancer patients.

The NHS Long Term Plan set out the national ambition that by 2028 3 out of 4 people diagnosed with cancer will be diagnosed at an early stage and that 55,000 more people will survive for 5 years or more by 2028 following their cancer diagnosis.

Please see below, the work that the Alliance is doing in collaboration with integrated care systems, local communities, GP practices and hospitals, regional screening teams, Health Innovation West of England, and charities to diagnose cancer earlier across Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire.

Historically, there has been a 8-9% point gap in early diagnosis between the most and least deprived areas. We are ensuring a focus on disadvantage within each strand of our early diagnosis programme.

People living with cancer in the most socio-economically deprived areas:

  • are 20% more likely to have their cancer diagnosed at a late stage
  • face almost 25% more emergency admissions in the last year of life compared to people in the least deprived areas

SWAG Cancer Alliance is committed to supporting systems to reduce health inequalities and ensure that changes to cancer services do not widen health inequalities.

Links to support health equality improvements

More information on SWAGs Health Inequalities work can be seen on the Health Inequalities page.

Timely Presentation

The SWAG Cancer Alliance is committed to increasing public knowledge of the signs and symptoms of cancer and encouraging action​ through supporting seldom heard groups to develop early diagnosis programmes within their communities.

The following are examples of local work to increase community awareness of cancer and its symptoms:

Useful links

Support for Primary Care

We recognise the importance of working with primary care to improve access, and support timely and effective referrals into hospital, we are working with systems to streamline cancer pathways to support diagnosis within 28 days.

The Primary Care Network Directed Enhanced Service (PCN DES) is the contract for GPs and PCNs to deliver healthcare. There are specific requirements related to cancer, including early diagnosis.

Additional Support for Primary Care Networks are available

Improving access


The links below are specific resources available to support people working in cancer healthcare settings.

Data and Insights

Understanding your local population using data and insights is key to targeting improvements. The following links are for useful sources of cancer data.

The following link has access available to NHS Organisations via request to Rapid Cancer Registration Dataset

Referral quality

SWAG are committed to supporting Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to improve the quality of referrals for suspected cancer. Useful links to resources available can be accessed below.


The use of teledermatology supports the delivery of dermatology services. It helps to manage demand and reduce unnecessary outpatient attendances. SWAG have been working with the Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) to roll out teledermatology services. The following resources are available to support services providing teledermatology.

Dermatology - Health Professionals

Dermatology - Public

Cancer Screening

The SWAG Cancer Alliance is committed to increasing uptake of the cancer screening programme across the region, specifically to improve screening uptake in populations seldom heard.  This includes modernising and expanding cancer screening programmes.

Useful links

Screening Resources

Bowel Screening

Cervical Screening

Screening and Learning Disabilities

Targeted and innovative interventions 

The SWAG Cancer Alliance is funding sustainable roll out of innovative early diagnosis technologies and tests to support earlier diagnosis, these include Targeted Lung Health Checks, Multi Cancer Blood tests, programmes to identify and test patients who may be at higher risk of developing cancer and embedding genomics testing in care pathways.

Other useful links