Why is it a priority?
Every year about 900 people will be newly diagnosed with cancer in Greenwich. We know that our borough has higher cancer rates than London and boroughs with similar levels of deprivation. We have the 6th highest rates out of the 32 London NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas.
There are around 440 deaths from cancer each year in Greenwich. This is around a third of all deaths, the most for any single cause, with an annual death rate that is higher than both London and England. Greenwich has the 9th highest mortality rate out of the 32 London CCG areas.
Cancer currently accounts for over a third of deaths amongst the under 75 year age group in Greenwich. These deaths are classed as premature, as they happen earlier than would be expected. Greenwich has a higher premature death rate than both London and England.
For people diagnosed in 2011, 66% survived for one year. This is poorer than the England (68%) and London (69%) figures. Greenwich has the 9th lowest one year survival figures of the 32 London CCG areas.
What could make a difference at a local level?
There are a number of areas which could make a difference at a local level. Firstly, we know that for people in the UK 1 in 3 cancers are linked to smoking, diet and being overweight – all things people can change.
Secondly, earlier diagnosis of cancer means that people have a better chance of successful treatment and consequently recovering from cancer. Earlier diagnosis can be increased by improving the uptake of cancer screening, awareness of symptoms and accessing health services in a timely fashion. Early diagnosis can also be facilitated by ensuring that professionals in primary care settings recognise potential cancer symptoms and refer them through the two week wait route for diagnosis.
Thirdly, ensuring that people have access to timely and quality treatment services will impact positively on outcomes.
What are the opportunities for improvement in Greenwich?
There are many opportunities to improve outcomes for cancer in Greenwich, namely:
- Ensuring that the public are aware of the difference that their lifestyles can have on their risk of developing cancer and support them to make changes to decrease that risk.
- Increasing awareness of the key cancer symptoms and when to access health services.
- Improving uptake of cancer screening, particularly in those communities where uptake is lowest, including in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups and people living in more deprived areas.
- Working with GPs to ensure that people, who need to be referred, are being referred through the two week wait pathway.
- Improving understanding of treatment pathways in Greenwich to ensure those people who are diagnosed with cancer receive optimal treatment.
There are a number of projects in progress or planned that will use these opportunities to improve outcomes in Greenwich. They include cancer awareness outreach, supporting cancer champions in pharmacies, developing a cancer prevention intervention for those people found not to have cancer after being through the two week wait process, incentivising GPs to support bowel cancer screening and carrying out a “tip the balance” campaign.