National cancer experts gathered for the first time in Yorkshire on Wednesday, 20 January 2016 with a collective aim to draw up a new strategy to tackle two of the region’s biggest problems.
The ‘cancer taskforce’ for Yorkshire has been brought together by the charity Yorkshire Cancer Research, which is calling for more to be done to tackle a huge north-south divide in cancer outcomes.
The two-day workshop concentrated on lung cancer, the region’s biggest cancer killer, and early diagnosis, which is key to helping more people survive.
The experts, which include clinicians, researchers and representatives from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Public Health England, will discuss practical ideas and solutions that will save lives. The results of the meeting will be used to steer the charity’s spending during 2016.
Yorkshire has the third highest cancer incidence rates in England. Mortality rates are higher than the national average and survival rates for many of the most common cancers are below the national average.
Charles Rowett, Chief Executive Officer at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:
More investment in tackling regional cancer priorities is urgently needed to begin to close the gap between cancer outcomes in Yorkshire and the rest of the country.
There are many reasons for the inequalities we see in the north, including high incidence rates, low screening rates, limited access to treatments, social deprivation and late diagnosis.
By bringing national leaders and local experts together, we will have the knowledge, skills and expertise required to create a comprehensive plan of action that will start to make a real difference.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Yorkshire, with around 4,500 people diagnosed with the disease every year. 15 of 21 CCGs in Yorkshire had incidence rates higher than the national average in 2013. Hull CCG had particularly high incidence rates (137 cases per 100,000 people) compared to the England average (83.3 cases per 100,000 people). Other areas with high incidence rates include Leeds South and East CCG, Leeds West CCG and South Tees CCG*.
Lung cancer mortality rates in Yorkshire are also significantly higher than the national average. 3,651 people died from lung cancer in Yorkshire in 2013. Mortality rates were 34% higher in Hull CCG (101.5 cases per 100,000 people) compared to the England average (66.6 cases per 100,000 people)*.
Other concerns related to the early diagnosis of cancer include low screening uptake rates in some parts of the region, particularly in Bradford.
Bradford City CCG has the lowest bowel cancer screening uptake rate in England. Over a 30 month period, just 35.7% of 60-69 year olds invited took part in the programme, compared with the England average of 58.30%**.
Bradford City also has the third lowest breast cancer screening uptake rate in England. Over a three year period, 54.70% of females aged 50-70 invited took part in screening, compared with the England average of 72.20%**.
In addition, there are huge variations in the number of people who present with cancer at a late stage throughout the region.
In Hull CCG, the rate of lung cancer cases diagnosed through emergency presentation at hospital is 35.2 per 100,000 people – double the figure for England (16.6 per 100,000 people).***
Other areas with high rates of emergency presentation include Leeds South & East CCG (31.7) and Leeds West CCG (26), compared with Leeds North (16.2). South Tees CCG (27.4) and Barnsley CCG (27.2) also have high rates on emergency presentation***.
Dr Richard Booton, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at the University of Manchester, will chair the lung cancer workshop.
Dr Richard Booton said:
I spent over 15 years living, training and working in Yorkshire prior to my current position in Manchester. Yorkshire, like the North West, has a high rate of premature death from lung cancer despite advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. I am delighted to return to help shape the substantial investment of Yorkshire Cancer Research to deliver a much needed reduction in lung cancer mortality.
Professor Greg Rubin, Professor of General Practice and Primary Care at Durham University, will chair the early diagnosis workshop.
Greg Rubin said:
I’m delighted, as a Yorkshireman and a cancer researcher, to be leading this initiative on behalf of Yorkshire Cancer Research. Earlier cancer diagnosis holds the key to improving cancer outcomes for the future. Today, the leading experts in the field have come together to help the charity identify how they can best invest in world-class research into earlier diagnosis for the benefit of the people of Yorkshire.
* NCIN, Cancer Commissioning Toolkit, Incidence 2008-2013, https://www.cancertoolkit.co.uk/ExtractsReports/Incidence, Accessed [December] .
** Cancer Commissioning Toolkit, Profiles, General Practice Profile, https://www.cancertoolkit.co.uk/Profiles/PracticePublic/Overview, Accessed [December] .
***NCIN, Routes to Diagnosis 2006-2010 workbook (b), http://www.ncin.org.uk/publications/routes_to_diagnosis, Accessed [December]