£750,000 study into cancer survival rates
A MAJOR investigation into a cancer postcode lottery has been launched in East Yorkshire.
Yorkshire Cancer Research says East Yorkshire has some of the poorest survival rates, linked to late diagnosis.
Now, the charity is launching a five-year project to investigate survival rates, assigning £750,000 to fund it.
Hull GP Una Macleod, who is also a professor of primary care medicine at Hull York Medical School, will be leading the investigation.
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She wants to address the issues relating to the diagnosis and experience of people with cancer throughout the Hull area.
Dr Macleod said: "Cancer patients in the UK are less likely to survive than those in other parts of Europe, Canada and Australia, and survival is particularly bad in socio- economically poor areas such as East Yorkshire."
Poor survival rates have been linked to delays in the diagnosis of cancer and the first part of the study will concentrate on understanding how people interpret symptoms and the factors that make them go to see their doctor.
Cancer patients in East Yorkshire will be invited to take part in the investigation, which will include questionnaires and in-depth interviews.
Groups of patients who have been newly diagnosed will be monitored by the investigation team to determine their outcome, and focus groups involving non-cancer patients will also be set up to assess attitudes towards seeking help and healthcare profess- ionals.
The project has been based on data from the North East Yorkshire and Humber Clinical Alliance, which shows that cancer mortality rates in East Yorkshire are higher than the national average, and five-year survival rates are significantly lower.
The data also shows deprived areas in East Yorkshire have higher mortality rates and lower survival rates compared with national rates.
Dr Macleod said: "We will carry out a number of related studies – understanding how cancers of the lung, head and neck first come to medical attention in patients who are socio-economically deprived – analysing cancer registry information relating to which part of the health service the patient first came to with symptoms from their cancer.
"We'll also be investigating the reasons and outcomes for patients who first seek medical help with cancer as an emergency."
The second part of the project will evaluate palliative care services for those with advanced cancer.
Data relating to referrals to and deaths in hospices will be analysed to determine inequalities depending on socio- economic background, age or gender, while patients with advanced cancer who are admitted to Hull Royal Infirmary for unscheduled care will be interviewed.
Medical records will be reviewed and focus groups involving specialists and GPs will be set up.
A pilot scheme designed to improve the planning of care for advanced cancer patients will also be trialed at Hull Royal Infirmary.