Cambridge public health and primary care investigators, who play a leading role in the field of early diagnosis of cancer, feature prominently in The British Journal of Cancer’s special supplement dedicated to the early diagnosis of cancer and the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis (NAEDI) initiative, which was published on 3rd March. The Cambridge group have led or contributed to a total of 7 papers.
The research has arisen from collaborations with over 25 researchers in 16 other organisations (including universities, NHS and third sector institutions) and 4 countries.
Efforts to improve the timeliness of diagnosis of cancer can be better informed by a deeper appreciation of the natural history of symptoms in patients with and without cancer. Led by NIHR Clinician Scientist Fiona Walter, the SYMPTOM-Lung multi-centre study provides for much more refined understanding of the nature and sequence of symptomatic presentations that may be associated with lung cancer or other respiratory conditions.
“Stratification” brings benefits to many aspects of medical research, and the field of early diagnosis can gain from a stratified understanding of risk of delayed or complex pathways to diagnosis – such as the diagnosis of cancer as an emergency. Led by Senior Statistician Gary Abel, the ‘routes to diagnosis 3’ study provides for a granular understanding of variation in risk of emergency presentation (by cancer-age-sex-socioeconomic status strata) for patients with 27 common and rarer cancers.
The focus of early diagnosis strategies can be better targeted towards either public health education or healthcare system (e.g. primary care) interventions by appreciating how the length of delays either before or after presentation varies for different cancers. This is the subject of another supplement paper, led by Cancer Research-UK Clinician Scientist Fellow Yoryos Lyrazopoulos, who has also led a perspectives paper on multi-faceted problem of ‘missed opportunities’ in the diagnosis of cancer after presentation.
Another three papers assess the impact of survival gains from eliminating inequalities in earlier stage at diagnosis of breast cancer in older women and in patients with melanoma, and the clinical application of decision support tools embedded in electronic health records.
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More about cancer prevention and early diagnosis at the Primary Care Unit