1. Main facts and figures
- overall, the percentage of new cancer diagnoses in England that were made at an early stage increased from 50.7% in 2014 to 52.6% in 2016; however, this result almost certainly reflects improvements in the data
- the percentage of new cancer diagnoses made at an early stage also increased within all ethnic groups over this period; however, the increases among White and Asian patients were the only reliable results, and again almost certainly reflect improvements in the data
The ethnic categories used in this data
This data breaks down the population into the standard ethnic groups used in analysis by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS).
The groups are:
There’s an extra category for patients whose ethnicity was unknown.
NCRAS uses these groups because of the need to compare data from different sources and time periods.
Although more detailed data is collected, analysis using more specific ethnic groups is difficult as the numbers of patients are small.
2. By ethnicity
A range of healthcare providers and other services (for example, pathology laboratories) submit cancer incidence data for England (that is, the number of people diagnosed with cancer over time). This data is sent to the regional offices of the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS), which is part of Public Health England.
The quality and accuracy of the data submitted by different sources may vary. The regional offices of NCRAS collate all the data for each patient, including checks for internal consistency of the sequence of dates, as well as which part of the body the cancer affects, its morphology and the patient’s sex. NCRAS also checks for duplicate registrations.
In recognition of the effect of natural variation, 95% confidence intervals are calculated around estimates for new cancer diagnoses at an early stage and these should be considered when interpreting results.
Confidence intervals are used to determine whether any differences in the figures are likely to be real, or due to natural variation.
In statistical terms, a 95% confidence interval means that if 100 random samples were taken from the data, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall in this range (that is, between the upper and lower confidence interval). But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.
The width of the confidence interval varies with the number of cancer diagnoses upon which it is based. The smaller the number, the wider the confidence interval, because less data means greater uncertainty.
Therefore, for the White ethnic group, which has the largest number of new diagnoses, the confidence intervals range from 52.5% to 53.0% in 2016. For the Chinese ethnic group, which has the smallest number, the confidence intervals range from 52.2% to 60.7%.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
Values based on less than 70% staging coverage are suppressed as they are considered unreliable.
Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.
Further technical information
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Public Health England
Purpose of data source
Cancer is a major cause of death, accounting for around a quarter of deaths in England. More than 1 in 3 people will develop cancer at some point in their life.
Diagnosis at an early stage of the cancer’s development leads to improved survival chances.
Specific public health interventions, such as screening programmes and information and education campaigns, aim to improve rates of early diagnosis.
The percentage of cancers diagnosed at an early stage is therefore a useful way of assessing improvements in cancer survival rates.
Type of data
Public Health England
N/A – statistics are not published but shared with other government departments who have permission to access the data
5. Download the data
This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, denominator, numerator, confidence intervals