Postcode lottery leaves Hastings among worst for early diagnosis of cancer

LESS than four out of 10 cancer patients in 1066 Country are diagnosed at an early stage, according to latest figures.

Data released by Public Health England (PHE) reveals a postcode lottery across the UK, with Hastings and neighbouring Eastbourne topping the worst areas for early diagnosis.

In both towns 33.9 per cent of cancer patients are diagnosed at an early stage, when the disease is more easily treatable.

Other towns in the top 10 worst areas include Middlesbrough, where the rate is 35.2 per cent, and Tower Hamlets in London, where 35.7 per cent of patients were diagnosed early.

The data, which covers 2012, shows that on average just under 42 per cent of cancers are diagnosed early (at stage 1 or stage 2).

Those in the top 10 best areas included South Cambridgeshire, with a rate of 61.5 per cent and Huntingdonshire, with 61 per cent.

Jem Rashbass, deputy director for national disease registration at PHE, said: “PHE has made the data on early diagnosis of cancer available as ‘experimental statistics’. They are experimental as they are in the testing phase and are not fully developed because despite considerable progress by many acute providers in England not all cases submitted to the National Cancer Registration Service have a stage recorded.

“PHE continues to work very closely with partners and stakeholders to help improve the completeness of the complex data that underpins staging information.”

Rob Hustwayte, spokesman for the three Clinical Commissioning Groups in Sussex, which hold the purse strings for local health services, said: “In Eastbourne and Hastings there are significant pockets of deprivation and a large proportion of older people - both associated with higher rates of cancer.

“The data used in this study is incomplete and its quality varies wildly so we are unable to draw firm conclusions.

“PHE has cautioned against making regional comparisons because the variations mainly reflect different ways of collecting and reporting data rather than actual outcomes for patients. We always strive to improve outcomes for all patients and cancer is a priority for the NHS and our colleagues in public health.

“In order to further improve the screening, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer locally, we are focusing on providing training for clinicians and on raising public awareness to encourage people with symptoms to visit their GP.”