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GPs help in early cancer diagnosis rise

Cancer cases set to rise by 33.5% by 2027

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The number of people who receive an early diagnosis of cancer is continuing to rise, helped by GPs referring patients with possible symptoms quicker for further tests and treatment, according to new figures.

New statistics published by the Scottish government’s Information Services Division (ISD Scotland) show that stage 1 diagnoses of breast, lung and colorectal cancers have increased by 6.5% since 2010 and 2011 combined.

This means 24.7% of cancer patients were diagnosed at this early stage in 2013 and 2014 combined.

Cancer is a major cause of death in Scotland and in 2013, almost 15,800 people died of cancer and approximately 31,000 people were diagnosed with the disease. The most common causes of cancer death and diagnosis are lung, breast and colorectal cancer.

The Scottish government said its Detect Cancer Early programme had helped to increase uptake of the National Bowel Screening Programme and had led to increased knowledge of cancer signs and symptoms.

In separate statistics also newly published, the number of people with cancer in Scotland is projected to increase by 33.5% by 2027, mainly due to the ageing population.

The ISD report, excluding non-malignant skin cancers, projects that 204,064 people in Scotland will have cancer by 2023-27 – an increase of 51,116 from the current 2008-12 period.

Scottish 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.

“Survival rates have also increased – 15,800 diagnosed this year will survive compared with 9,500 that would have survived 30 years ago. However, today’s projections for a continued increase in the number of people with cancer shows that we must keep up our efforts.

“Lifestyle changes have a big part to play. Drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, exercising more and eating healthily all play a part in decreasing cancer risk.

“Due to our aging population we know more people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. This is why it is vital that we continue to work closely with the cancer community to ensure we have robust plans in place to shape cancer care well into the future.

“Working with stakeholder groups and patients over the rest of the year, we will continue to develop our plan to ensure that real improvements are made to services, based on the best possible evidence.”

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