Transformative potential of ED&D to improve health outcomes
If we are to beat cancer, early detection and diagnosis (ED&D) are arguably the most effective means we have at our disposal. Patients diagnosed early have the best chance of curative treatment and long-term survival. Despite this, we are currently only diagnosing just over half of patients at an early stage, demonstrating significant opportunity for improvement.
However, the ecosystem required for development and delivery of ED&D is complex and fragmented, spanning many sectors (e.g. academic research, industry, regulators, investors, healthcare professionals, government, the public etc.) and early detection research often struggles to achieve proper validation due to numerous factors, such as: complex and unclear biology, lack of quality sample availability and insufficient funding for translation. Moreover, there has been poor industry engagement in ED&D due to the high cost of research and development, the low price-point of diagnostics and unclear regulatory/approval pathways.
There is a pressing need to see a paradigm shift in our ability to accurately detect and diagnose cancer at an early stage to transform health outcomes.
Early Detection and Diagnosis of Cancer; A Roadmap to the Future
To unite the fragmented efforts of the ED&D ecosystem and to establish a pathway for ED&D in the UK, Cancer Research UK conducted an extensive consultation exercise with over 100 expert stakeholders across a broad range of sectors to develop a Roadmap for the Early Detection and Diagnosis of Cancer (ED&D Roadmap). The ED&D Roadmap:
- Articulates a shared vision, from discovery to implementation, for a long-term future where ED&D of all cancers is a routine reality.
- Highlights the current challenges impeding progress.
- Provides tangible recommendations for research, development, health system delivery and government policy on how to overcome these challenges and realise the shared vision.
Underlying every recommendation is a mandate to ensure ED&D is delivered ethically, equitably and transparently throughout the UK, with extensive involvement from patients and the public to reduce health inequalities. It outlines a highly ambitious vision for a future model not of solely firefighting symptomatic disease, but of proactive health maintenance. While the ED&D Roadmap primarily focuses on cancer, cancer may be used as an exemplar to establish approaches that will deliver benefit in many other disease areas.
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About Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is the world’s largest independent funder of oncology research, investing over £450m per year into basic biology, translational and clinical cancer research. In addition to its therapeutic activities, the charity is increasingly focussing its efforts on the development of new diagnostics, medical devices and data/software/AI-driven approaches to detect, diagnose and treat cancer earlier and more effectively.