Cutting number of cancers diagnosed as emergencies could save 1,400 lives a year

May 03, 2018

Over 1,400 lives could be saved every year - four more every day - if more cancers were diagnosed through GP referral instead of emergency hospital admissions, according to a new study led by City, University of London and funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Cancers diagnosed following a GP referral are more likely to have been spotted early, meaning patients have a better chance of surviving or living longer with their disease.

Examining over 370,000 people from England's National Cancer Registry with the four most common types of cancer (breast, bowel, prostate and lung cancer), it was also seen that a shift from emergency cancer diagnosis towards GP referral, in line with the best performing areas in England, would come at a small additional cost to the NHS. The study is published in BMC Cancer.

The researchers from City, Imperial College London, University of Palermo and Social Research Division, Dublin found that the estimated cost of such a shift was an average of £2,130 per year of life saved, or just £6 per day for the four cancersv.

This is due partly to the fact that patients who survive go on to require more long-term follow up care from the NHS. The costs for cancers diagnosed via GP referral also encompass those for diagnostic tests, including on patients who may not turn out to have cancer, but where the referral or investigation may have picked up another treatable condition.

These additional costs are low when viewed in the context of the wider NHS and the huge benefits early diagnosis brings to patients and their families - as well as being associated with lower survival, an emergency cancer diagnosis is often a huge shock, which can be traumatic for patients and their families, and may also mean that they do not have as much support immediately available to them.

Furthermore, the additional costs are well within current cost-effectiveness threshold guidelines which consider interventions costing less than £20,000 per year of life saved to represent 'good value for money' and to be worthy of NHS investment.

Dr Mauro Laudicella, Senior Lecturer in Health Economics at City, University of London and one of the authors of the paper said:

"We already know too many cancers are diagnosed as emergencies, but what this research shows is a large variation across geographical areas of England, offering real opportunities for a cost-effective intervention. What is even more compelling is the low level of additional investment such an intervention would require, and the fact that in some cancers, like prostate, it would actually save money for the NHS, as well as the lives of patients.

"While it is no surprise that people who survive their cancer cost the NHS more money in the long run, the findings of this research reiterate the fact that this is a small price to pay for a huge amount of benefit to patients and their families."

City University London

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to