Early cancer detection

Early diagnosis and referral from primary care is important. Time to diagnostics and reporting of results influences effectiveness of treatment and prognosis. Late presentation is thought to be a key factor in poor survival rates. The chart below highlights the success in diagnosing early stage cancer but demonstrates potential for improvement.

*Percentage of people whose cancer is diagnosed at each stage

Early Cancer Detection graph

Diagnosing cancers at an earlier stage provides better outcomes and this involves:

  • Public engagement in symptom recognition and early referral to the GP
  • Recognition of alarm symptoms and early investigations by GPs
  • Prompt diagnostics and staging in secondary care

In Wales, the two targets for waiting times are:

  • 95% of people newly diagnosed with cancer (via the urgent suspected cancer route) should start treatment within 62 days of being referred by their GP
  • 98% of people referred to hospital for other reasons but diagnosed with cancer (not via the urgent suspected cancer route) should start treatment within 31 days of the decision to treat



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