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Bringing together data to better understand people living with a cancer in London

29th May 2019

Developed by the Transforming Cancer Services Team (TCST) partnership with Public Health England (PHE)1, the London Prevalence Dashboard brings together 2017 cancer prevalence data to better understand people living in London with a cancer diagnosis.

We know that 70% of people affected by cancer have at least one long term condition (Macmillan, 2015) and that 15 months after diagnosis, cancer patients have 60% more A&E attendances, 97% more emergency admissions and 50% more contact with their GPs than a comparable group (Nuffield Trust, 2014). This demonstrates the growing need for health and care systems to respond to rising cancer diagnoses and improving cancer survival rates. 

The TCST-PHE Cancer Prevalence Dashboard brings together 2017 data and views for CCGs, STPs, Cancer Alliances and the London region on the:

  • Demographics of those living with a cancer diagnosis (age, sex, ethnicity, socio-economic status, years since diagnosis).
  • Proportion of people living with subsequent primary cancers – an important measure to monitor as the population ages, and this proportion grows.
  • Completeness rates comparing cancer registry data with primary care practice registers (QOF).
  • Forecasted growth of cancer prevalence to 2030, to help with forward planning. 

The dashboard reveals that there were 231,740 people living with a cancer diagnosis in London in 2017, and this number could grow 52% by 2030. Cancer prevalence varied across London, from 3.6% in Bromley CCG to 1.4% at Tower Hamlets CCG. There is a consistently higher prevalence of cancer in women across all London geographies, and prevalence dramatically increases with age, with prevalence in over 75-year olds being above 12% in all geographies. 

We hope that organisations working at population health level will be able to use the data from the Prevalence Dashboard in their Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and business cases to understand the profile of their prevalent population.  Services will also be able to use the data to better understand the demographics of their local cancer population, to support service planning and to identify patient cohorts that are not currently accessing services. These data will also inform the pan London Cancer Inequalities Strategy currently being developed by TCST and due for publication in the summer.

It is clear that further work is needed to understand the reasons behind discrepancies between national Registry data and QOF registers. Accurate practice registers are a first, essential step in providing pro-active and coordinated care to people affected by cancer throughout their life time. With this in mind, TCST has been working with Tower Hamlets’ Clinical Effectiveness Group and CCG to describe how improvement in cancer coding has occurred. More information on this will be published in the summer.

We are hopeful that by providing a detailed picture of patients amongst service providers who are living with a cancer diagnosis, we are contributing to improvements in the quality of life of cancer patients and reducing inequalities.

Liz Price and Amy Zalin, Transforming Cancer Services Team for London.


  1. Data for this study is based on patient-level information collected by the NHS. The data is collated, maintained and quality assured by Public Health England’s National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service.


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