Cancer and the Countryside: A deadly duo

Oct 7, 2020 | Cancer Diagnosis, Social Problems

Cancer is hard to understand and the statistics between urban and rural cases are complex.

The disease is ruthless, complicated, prevalent and difficult too diagnose. In the last few decades fantastic improvements have been made in understanding this horrific disease and how it affects us. Whilst treatments have advanced and so has our understanding, diagnosing patients early remains a huge challenge and the statistics vary hugely depending on Geographical location.

Cancer Diagnosis

In the UK the process for a Cancer diagnosis has often been criticised with the consensus, heavily backed by science that delays in diagnosis will lead to a worse prognosis. The procedure of making a GP appointment which on average now takes over two weeks just to see a doctor is simply viewed as too long. Additionally, this only allows for an initial consultation to determine whether the symptoms are ‘a Red Flag’ and warrant a referral. The harsh reality is that cases will be getting missed by this procedure and in some cases the patients must return to the GP multiple times before they are then referred. This delay is critical, life changing and is likely to be responsible in many excess deaths from Cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, 38% of Cancer deaths are preventable, and an early diagnosis is key. This was all prior to the Coronavirus pandemic when it was possible to see a GP under no restrictions. Now, the backlog of GP appointments possesses nothing more than further risks to patients and receiving a diagnosis.

Geographical Challenges

Providing the highest quality treatment across the Cancer spectrum is hard. Many complicated Cancer’ have specialised centres in a few locations across the UK where all diagnosed patients must travel to in order to receive treatment. The reality is that most developed countries centralise their specialist Cancer services within larger cities which brings huge challenges for those who are located in many of the rural areas of the UK and ultimately could be risking lives. A study commissioned by the British Journal of General Practice found that those living in rural areas, required to travel further to see a GP had poorer survival rates and emergency admissions compared to those located closer to a GP. Furthermore, Breast and Prostate Cancer Incidence Rates were found to be higher in village areas by approximately 8% and 11% respectively. The last few months have been beyond challenging for everyone in healthcare however, there is no doubt that the system used to initiate a Cancer diagnosis has been under strain to unprecedented levels and without doubt the system must change to benefit all, not the few and to ensure equality regardless of geographical location.

AI and the future of Cancer

Moving forward, change is needed to ensure the Cancer diagnosis process can improve for the better. We cannot afford to be giving a certain quality of care in one area and better quality elsewhere. AI presents us with the answer we are looking for and here at YouDiagnose we believe we have the answer to this unprecedented challenge. Using AI, Cancer can be diagnosed faster, earlier and with the aid of AI powered clinical decision support. Furthermore, it allows the NHS to reduce health inequalities ensuring everyone can receive a diagnosis regardless of where in the UK they are located and moving forward, this presents a fairer and more inclusive Healthcare system for us all.


Mr. Neema Nabavian, Dr Aswini Misro