Early cancer diagnoses increase

  • Date: 24 August 2015

A QUARTER of diagnoses of the three most common cancers are being made at the earliest stage, new figures for Scotland show.

Over the two-year period from 2013 to 2014, 24.7 per cent of diagnoses of breast, colorectal and lung cancer (combined) were made at stage 1. This is a rise of 6.5 per cent compared to the total for 2010 and 2011.

Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland said part of the increase in stage 1 diagnoses could be due to improved data recording by healthcare staff of disease stage, as well as a greater number of early GP referrals.

The Scottish Government also credited its Detect Cancer Early initiative with increasing uptake of the National Bowel Screening Programme and boosting knowledge of cancer signs and symptoms.

Cancer is one of the major causes of death in Scotland, ISD Scotland said. In 2013, nearly 15,800 people died of the disease in Scotland and approximately 31,000 people were diagnosed.

From 2013 to 2014, the ISD report found breast cancer was most commonly diagnosed at stage 2, accounting for 43 per cent of all patients. Over the same period, colorectal cancer was most commonly diagnosed at stage 2 (26 per cent); and lung cancer at stage 4 (48 per cent).

Figures showed that diagnoses at either stage 1 or 2 were most likely to be made in people living in the least deprived areas than the most deprived. Later diagnoses (stage 3 or 4) were more common amongst patients from the most deprived areas.

For example, in the most deprived areas around 23 per cent of diagnoses were made at stage 1 and 2 compared to 28-29 per cent in least deprived areas. Similarly, 31 per cent of diagnoses were made at stage 4 in the most deprived areas but only 22 per cent in the least deprived.

In a separate ISD report just published, the number of people in Scotland with cancer is predicted to rise by more than a third (33.7 per cent) by 2027, largely due to the ageing population.

Excluding non-malignant skin cancers, ISD estimated that 204,000 people in Scotland will have cancer by 2023 to 2027 – an increase of just over 51,000 from the current 2008 to 2012 period.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “It’s very encouraging to see that an increasing proportion of cancer patients are getting the early diagnoses that we know are so crucial. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. I would continue to urge people to take every screening opportunity available, and to report any worrying symptoms to their GP as soon as they can.”

She added that survival rates have also increased. Of those diagnosed in 2015, 15,800 will survive compared with 9,500 30 years ago.

Read the reports on the ISD Scotland website


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