‘Encouraging’ rate of early cancer diagnosis in North Somerset – but more needs to be done to improve

PUBLISHED: 08:00 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 08:34 31 January 2017

British doctor taking senior man's blood pressure in surgery room having a check up

British doctor taking senior man's blood pressure in surgery room having a check up

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More than half of North Somerset’s cancer patients are being treated at an early stage – but charity Cancer Research UK has warned experts must keep an eye on targets as the NHS continues to deal with ‘increasing pressure’.

New figures have revealed the number of cases of breast cancer and prostate cancer are higher in the district than the national average.

However, the statistics also show 54 per cent of patients are treated when their illness is at stage one or two.

Stage one is when the cancer cells are relatively small and contained within the organ it started in, while stage two is when the tumour is larger but has not started to spread.

The district is performing well for referral times overall but is missing the target for patients to receive their first cancer treatment within 62 days of a referral from a GP.

More than 80 per cent of patients do receive treatment within this time but CCGs should be hitting 85 per cent and Cancer Research UK believe any target missed is ‘worrying’.

Sara Bainbridge, policy manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s good news that the North Somerset CCG is diagnosing more than half of patients at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

“But it’s worrying that, like the rest of the country, the North Somerset CCG is not meeting the waiting times’ target for people to start their treatment within 62 days.

“With increasing pressures on the NHS, it’s really important that local areas keep an eye on their cancer targets because these can show how well the NHS is performing.”

North Somerset’s Clinical Commission Group (CCG) is responsible for adhering to the waiting time targets and Dr Nicola Harker, clinical lead for Cancer at the CCG said the organisation is ‘working hard’ to achieve these.

She said: “We are aware that the incidence of breast and prostate cancer in North Somerset is slightly higher than the national average but it is encouraging to see that despite this we are achieving survival rates similar to the national average.

“This is due to the hard work of NHS staff in diagnosing cancers earlier, and improvements in treatments available.”

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