Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions

Early Cancer Diagnosis

Early Cancer Diagnosis

We are internationally renowned for our research on the epidemiology of diagnosis and the diagnostic process for cancer, including:

  1. Identification of individuals at high risk of cancer
  2. Optimum testing strategies in primary care
  3. Implementation of this into the NHS and internationally

We use many methodologies including analyses of large NHS datasets; systematic reviews and individual participant data meta-analyses; vignette studies; diagnostic accuracy studies; discrete choice experiments; and qualitative work.

The Discovery team have many collaborative projects, with current ones listed on the CanTest website. We have many previous projects, and six prize-winning ones have been selected here to show the diversity of subjects within cancer diagnosis that we do.  

  1. We have examined the public appetite for cancer testing even when the likelihood of cancer is low – which strongly influenced provision of NHS cancer diagnostics.
  2. We have examined the key features of ovarian cancer in women presenting to their doctor…
  3. and a similar study in childhood cancer.
  4. We have studied whether seeing the same GP preferentially has an effect on the speed that cancer is identified.
  5. We have modelled whether cervical smears could be used as a diagnostic test in women with gynaecological symptoms, in addition to its standard use in screening.
  6. We have also led the field in studying the link between a raised platelet count and a future cancer diagnosis.  

For more information on the team's cancer diagnosis work, see the DISCO programme.

Current Activity

CanTest Research Group/ Discovery (DISCO) Team

The CanTest Collaborative, funded by a Cancer Research UK Catalyst Award, is an international team of primary care cancer researchers working on early detection and diagnosis of cancer. CanTest’s rapidly growing portfolio includes over 40 active projects that cover a range of different cancers, with a focus on the ‘common’ cancers such as lung and colorectal, and the ‘hard to detect’ cancers such as pancreatic and ovarian. CanTest's research addresses many aspects of cancer diagnosis. Who should be tested for cancer? How should they be tested for cancer? Where should they be tested for cancer? How can the health care system offer the best level of testing?

Projects ongoing

Policy Research Unit

The Policy Research Unit funding has now been renewed for the years 2019-2024. The research is also supported by the NIHR's Applied Research Collaboration for the South West Peninsula (PenARC). PenARC aims to improve health through carrying out medical research which directly addresses local health needs.

SPOCC: Spotting Cancer Among Co-Morbidities

Visit the Ageing, Frailty, and Multimorbidity page for more information.