The East of England Cancer Alliance has published a new cancer strategy to improve cancer services today and provide the best possible cancer care for the future. 


As part of our work to develop the new strategy, we carried out a detailed assessment of cancer services in the East of England and, in particular, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cancer referrals, treatments and diagnoses were impacted during the pandemic. We saw a reduction in early stage diagnoses and a rise in emergency presentations that, without the mitigations and actions described in the strategy, will potentially impact on survival outcomes for patients. 

You can access the full report here. (This report was published at the end of 2022 when the Alliance was comprised of two Alliances, one for the North and one for the South). 

However, due to concerted efforts on the NHS frontline in primary and secondary care: cancer referrals, early stage and emergency presentations appear to have since restored to pre-pandemic levels.  In fact, urgent cancer referrals have now increased to the highest numbers we have ever seen. 

Despite this, there remains a gap in cancer treatments and diagnoses.  As a result of these findings, we urge patients who are concerned about their health symptoms to come forward and make an appointment with their GP. 

We expect around 94-95% of these patients will have cancer ruled out.  For the 5-6% who will have cancer, timely presentation and early diagnosis are vital for improving outcomes and meeting the NHS Long Term Plan ambitions by 2028.

Data and evidence continue to be critical in monitoring progress and effecting measurable change for the benefit of patients, and Cancer Alliances are well placed to provide these for regions and local Integrated Care Systems.

The pandemic, which began in March 2020, with outbreaks continuing into 2022, had an unprecedented impact on health care services, and it was essential that we understood the impact it had on our cancer services, to form the evidence base for our cancer strategy.