Sunderland is one of the best places in England for cancer treatment – despite also being one of the worst for survival and diagnosis rates.
According to the latest figures, the city is among the country’s top quartile for treatment and overall patient experience when battling the disease.
But at the same time it is in the bottom quartile nationally for early diagnosis and survival rates one year on from diagnosis.
Speaking at a (Wednesday, November 28) meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, NHS bosses admitted the findings appeared ‘counter intuitive’.
“Once the cancer is assessed and you’re in, the service is pretty good,” said Scott Watson, director of Contracting and Informatics at Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
“The problem we’ve got is we are, as a city, not particularly good at picking up screenings, things like bowel cancer and breast cancer screenings.
“For things that would help, like early detection, we have relatively low up-takes on.”
He added: “The one-year cancer survival can be linked to that – we’re picking up a lot of cancers in stages three and four, when there’s not a lot can be done at that stage.”
Deaths from ‘heart disease, cancer and respiratory problems’ was highlighted as one of the biggest health challenges facing the city in the CCG’s 2017/18 annual report.
This also showed doctors in the CCG area were hitting or exceeding all targets for treatment within set periods following diagnosis.
However, it was also slightly behind its target for the number of patients waiting more than six weeks for ‘key diagnostic tests’.
In July last year (2017) the CCG took part in the ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign to raise awareness of symptoms in an attempt to improve early detection.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service