The number of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 in the most deprived areas of England is significantly lower than those caught early in the least deprived areas.

According to NHS Digital, 18,266 (47%) of cancers were diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 in the most deprived areas in 2020: seven percentage points lower than in the most well-off areas.

As many as 25,258 cancers were diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 in the least deprived areas – or 55% of the total stageable diagnoses.

Cancer is one of the five clinical areas of focus set out under the Core20PLUS5, setting out that 75% of cases should be diagnosed at stage 1 or 2 by 2028.

The newly published data – which considers unadjusted percentages – also revealed that early stage diagnoses were significantly lower in deprived areas among at least nine kinds of cancer investigated.

It indicated that 81% of breast cancers in deprived areas were diagnosed at stages 1 and 2, compared to 85% in more well off areas.

This figure stood at 49% to 52% for prostate cancers and 85% to 88% for melanoma of skin cancer.

For larynx cancer, deprived areas saw only 38% of cases diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 compared to 60% in the least deprived areas: the greatest difference identified.

Earlier this year, Cancer Research UK called on the Government to make tackling cancer inequalities central to its 10-year plan after identifying significant disparities in cancer rates by ethnicity.

And in a spring report, the Health and Social Care Committee criticised the Government for its absence of any plan to tackle chronic cancer workforce shortages, which it claimed ‘threaten’ diagnosis, treatment and research.

In November, The Pharmacist reported that the UK National Screening Committee has recommended, for the first time, that all four nations in the UK should implement a national lung cancer screening programme.

A version of this article was first published by The Pharmacist's sister title Healthcare Leader.