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Which indicators of early cancer diagnosis from population-based data sources are associated with short-term mortality and survival?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laura WoodsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2018 The Authors. Background: A key component of recent English cancer policy is the monitoring of trends in early diagnosis of cancer. Early diagnosis can be defined by the disease stage at diagnosis or by other indicators derived from electronic health records. We evaluate the association between different early diagnosis indicators and survival, and discuss the implementation of the indicators in surveillance of early diagnosis. Methods: We searched the PubMed database and grey literature to identify early diagnosis indicators and evaluate their association with survival. We analysed cancer registrations for 355,502 cancer patients diagnosed in England during the period 2009–2013, and quantified the association between each early diagnosis indicator and 30-day mortality and five-year net survival. Results: Each incremental difference in stage (I–IV) predicts lower 5-year survival, so prognostic information is lost in comparisons which use binary stage indicators. Patients without a recorded stage have high risk of death shortly following diagnosis and lower 5-year survival. Emergency presentation is independently associated with lower five-year survival. Shorter intervals between first symptoms and diagnosis are not consistently associated with improved survival, potentially due to confounding from tumour characteristics. Interpretation: Contrary to current practice, we recommend that all the stage information should be used in surveillance. Patients missing stage should also be included to minimise bias. Combined data on stage and emergency presentation could be used to create summary prognostic measures. More work is needed to create statistics based on the diagnostic interval that will be useful for surveillance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Muller P, Walters S, Coleman MP, Woods L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cancer Epidemiology

Year: 2018

Volume: 56

Pages: 161-170

Print publication date: 01/10/2018

Online publication date: 25/07/2018

Acceptance date: 16/07/2018

Date deposited: 16/05/2022

ISSN (print): 1877-7821

ISSN (electronic): 1877-783X

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.canep.2018.07.010

PubMed id: 30056051


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