In recent years there has been significant academic and media attention focused on the poor health outcomes of England when compared to other European countries. Health outcomes for cancer can be measured in a variety of ways; however, the most common measures are survival rates. Survival rates measure the proportion of patients with a disease that are still alive after a given time period. The NHS tends to focus on 1 year and 5 year survival statistics, particularly when making international comparisons.
To put this in context, the national strategy document Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer says:
“If England was to achieve cancer survival rates at the European average, then 5,000 lives would be saved every year. If England was to achieve cancer survival rates at the European best, then 10,000 lives would be saved every year. That is our challenge.”
The differences in 1 year survival are of particular interest to us as they are used as the best available indicator of delays in getting a patient to diagnosis. These delays can be associated with either patient delays – through a lack of awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer, or a reluctance to seek medical help; or primary care delays – through poor access to diagnostic services or poor referral pathways to secondary care.
The National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) is a coordinated programme of work which aims to support local Cancer Networks and their constituent organisations in undertaking interventions aimed at:
We are committed to improving early diagnosis within our area. There are currently a range of local projects focusing on the delivery of this aim: