Big differences in timely cancer diagnoses: IKNL

A lung cancer X-ray. Photo:

Not all cancer sufferers have an equal chance of survival and not all cancers are being diagnosed in their early stages, figures made public by cancer registration centre IKNL on World Cancer Day have shown.

For example, 70% of cases of thyroid cancer, uterine cancer and melanomas are diagnosed in a relatively early stage making treatment potentially more successful.

However, with cancers showing fewer symptoms, such as cancer of the lungs, stomach, oesophagus and pancreas, early diagnosis only occurs in 10% of cases.

Mass screening programmes for breast and colon cancer have helped to increase the number of early diagnoses. For breast cancer the the figure went from 28% in the late 1980s to 45% in 2022, the IKNL said. Timely diagnoses of colon cancer went from 19% to 25% and lung cancer and prostate cancer are also being diagnosed earlier.

The prognosis for lung cancer has also improved because of better techniques to detect metastases. The Netherlands is currently carrying out three lung cancer screening trials as preparation for a national screening programme.

Some 900,000 people are currently living with cancer and the number of cases went up by 2000 to 128,000 in the last year. The IKNL said that number will continue to rise as a result of an ageing population.

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