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Early cancer diagnosis study

Cancer patients are five times more likely to have surgery to remove their tumour, and less likely to have chemotherapy, if diagnosed at the earliest stage compared to the latest stage, according to new figures.

It is the first time researchers have been able to show whether NHS patients received surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, alone or in combination, linked with their cancer stage.

Cancer Research UK and Public Health England examined data from half a million patients with 22 different cancer types in England between 2013 and 2014. 

The results show that seven in 10 (70%) diagnosed at stage 1 had surgery to remove their tumour. This fell to around one in 10 (13%) of those diagnosed at stage 4.

Around one in 10 (12%) patients diagnosed at the earliest stage had chemotherapy – a figure that rises to around four in 10 (39%) of those diagnosed at the latest stage.

Mick Peake, Lead Clinician in the study, based at Public Health England, said: “Doctors want to offer patients the best possible treatment. For some cancers, like leukaemia and lymphoma, that’s chemotherapy. But in most cases the earlier cancer is diagnosed the more likely it is to be effectively treated by surgery, and that means chemotherapy isn’t always necessary.

“In general, the treatment of cancers at an early stage also reduces the risk of long-term side effects.”

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