Early detection research covers a multitude of disciplines from increasing awareness of cancer symptoms in the population to allow for a quicker diagnosis, to laboratory work into biomarkers for the early detection of the disease.

The early detection of cancer is important in order to improve patient survival rates. When an individual is diagnosed with early stage cancer the use of treatments, such as surgery, are vastly more successful at removing the tumour and reducing the risk of subsequent reoccurrences of the disease. However, if they are diagnosed at later stages, when the tumour is much larger and the cancer has possibly spread elsewhere in the body, survival rates can drop significantly.

Manchester Early Detection Wheel – six domains

There are multiple reasons for a late diagnosis of cancer, such as symptoms being mild or non-existent for some cancers until they are at a later stage, or members of the public being unaware exactly of which symptoms to look out for. 

Research across Manchester is focusing on ways to make the general public more informed and aware of the symptoms for a range of different cancers. Encouraging early help-seeking behaviour, such as visiting a GP sooner, is being addressed by creating roles within the community and by utilising web-based tools to promote cancer symptom awareness. By making the individual more aware of the symptoms of cancer, they can then seek medical help earlier and in turn receive an earlier cancer diagnosis.

Biomarkers, which can signify the presence of cancer, are also important in the early detection of the disease. Researchers in Manchester are looking into novel biomarkers which can be used for the early detection of cancers typically detected at a late stage where survival statistics are lower, such as lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer. A simple non-invasive biomarker test for diagnosing these cancers at an earlier stage would drastically improve a patient’s prognosis. 

The early detection of cancer is an important area of research that can benefit all cancers types regardless of its biological profile, and is the main key in ultimately improving survival rates of cancer.