One-year cancer survival rate continues to increase in Northamptonshire – but early diagnosis lags behind

Macmillan charity warns government must address staff shortages and provide concrete solutions

By Kevin Nicholls
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 8:12 am

Survival rates of cancer patients in Northamptonshire one year after diagnosis are still on the rise, new figures show.

But it comes as early diagnosis rates lag behind Government targets for 75 percent of cancer cases to be detected at stage one or two by 2028.

A panel of experts appointed by MPs has described the Government's commitment to cancer care across England as "inadequate", while former health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned cancer survival could "go into reverse" as a result of missed early diagnoses.

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Macmillan Cancer Support says the government needd to address staff shortages and provide concrete solutions in its 10-Year Cancer Plan

NHS Digital figures show 73.5 percent of people living in the NHS Northamptonshire CCG area survived the first year after their cancer diagnosis in 2019.

This was up from 72.9 percent the year prior and 63.4 percent in 2004, when records began.

The figures do not include patients with prostate and non-melanoma skin cancers.

Across England, one-year survival rates steadily rose over 15 years, from 64.4 percent to 74.6 percent.

However, little progress has been made on early diagnosis and the national rate remains well below the 75 percent target, which was first announced as part of the NHS Long Term Plan in 2018.

Separate NHS Digital figures show just 55 percent of cancers were detected at earlier stages in 2019 – the latest available figures.

This was an increase of just 0.3 percentage points compared to 2013, when records began,

In Northamptonshire, 55 percent of all cancer diagnoses in 2019 were classified as stage one or two, down from 55.8 percent over the same time period.

Mr Hunt, chairman of the Government's health and social care committee, which recently published a report on cancer services nationally, warned early cancer diagnosis is being jeopardised by staff shortages and the "damaging and prolonged impact" of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the NHS is not on track to meet the Government's early cancer diagnosis target and that more than 340,000 people will miss out on an early diagnosis between 2019 and 2028 without fixing key issues.

Earlier this year, Health Secretary Sajid Javid declared a "national war on cancer" and announced a 10-year strategy would be published.

Minesh Patel, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said while there has been limited progress on cancer survival rates in recent years, the Government must address severe staff shortages and provide concrete solutions in its 10-Year Cancer Plan.

An NHS England spokesperson said cancer care is a priority for the organisation and the £3.8 billion plan to recover elective care over the next three years will help catch and treat more cancers at an early stage.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We recognise that business as usual on cancer is not enough – that’s why we have redoubled our efforts and are developing a 10-Year Cancer Plan to set out how we will lead the world in cancer care."

The DHSC has promised to tackle the Covid-19 backlog, reduce cancer waiting times and invest £8 billion over the next three years, adding to an extra £2 billion investment in 2021.