By 2020, 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in the UK, at some point in their lifetime. Survival and cure is inextricably linked to the stage at diagnosis (i.e. how far the cancer has spread). At stages 1 or 2 (the earliest stages), the cure rates are as high as 80%. However, at stages 3 or 4 (when diagnosed late and the cancer has spread), survival can drop significantly, often to less than 10%. This not only shortens life expectancy, but can also have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life.


of patients are diagnosed in the late stages


survive if diagnosed late


survive if diagnosed early

Currently, just over half of patients diagnosed with cancer in the UK will be cured of their disease. Cancer survival in the UK is well below the European average, especially for people aged over 75. Late diagnosis not only costs lives but also is more expensive to treat; NHS England estimates that late diagnosis incurs an additional £210million per annum as well as 50,000 preventable deaths per year.

Diagnosing cancer is extremely challenging. Unlike other diseases, there is no single identifiable symptom that can alert doctors to a potential cancer diagnosis, nor test or investigation. Cancer is a collection of signs, symptoms and risk factors. This makes it extremely difficult, as signs and symptoms overlap with many other diseases and are often vague and non-specific.