Dr Nick Tupper blog: Extra lives saved by cancer treatment

nicktupperIt’s the festive season and I’ve some Christmas cheer on how we’re standing up to cancer in Doncaster.

Nearly 400 ‘extra’ lives have been saved in the borough over the past two years, thanks to the ‘catch cancer early’ drive we’ve been spearheading.

Between March 2013 and March 2015, an additional 185 people a year won their battle against cancer thanks to initiatives introduced to enable early detection of the disease, followed up with fast access to potentially curable treatment.

That’s 370 Doncaster people who are alive today who probably wouldn’t be had we not put focus, funding and resources into spotting and treating cancer early.

We found this after comparing Doncaster’s cancer care figures for the last two years against those for 2012/13.

Since 2013, the clinical commissioning group I chair has focussed on tackling cancer on a number of fronts, including providing training for GPs to increase the number of patients referred to hospital specialists with suspected cancer; organising weekend cover for cancer care at Doncaster Royal Infirmary; and developing a scheme with the Macmillan charity and others to support local people who are living with and beyond cancer.

The number of Doncaster people diagnosed with cancer after being admitted to hospital in an emergency – when it is often too late for treatment – has been cut by nearly one third. GPs have referred to hospital thousands more patients with suspected cancer, which has led to hundreds more having their first treatment to battle the disease.

Overall, 12 per cent more Doncaster patients have had their first treatment for cancer, the highest increase in South Yorkshire and more than double the national average. This is largely due to the combined efforts of GP practices and hospital clinicians in Doncaster and Sheffield acting fast.

Nearly 9,000 Doncaster people are urgently referred by their GP to hospital with suspected cancer each year and, following tests, an average 2,500 of them are found to have the disease.

Publicity campaigns are raising awareness and helping people spot the cancer early warning signs. Our CCG’s Movember moustache brigade have done their bit by raising a fantastic £864 in sponsorship this year and local people regularly dip into their pockets to donate money to good causes like the Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust.

Around 10,000 Doncaster people are living with a cancer diagnosis at the moment and by 2030 this is expected to rise to over 20,000.

The average age of a person diagnosed with cancer in Doncaster is 65 and the average life expectancy in the town is 79. This means everyone who survives cancer could potentially enjoy an average 14 extra years of life.

Multiply those 14 years by the additional 370 people we estimate have survived cancer over the past two years and it adds up to a potential extra 5,180 Christmases which those people will be able to spend with their family and friends.

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