Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Why is early diagnosis important?

Why is early diagnosis important? image

Diagnosing cancer as early as possible increases the chances that treatment will be successful.1

This is because cancers are diseases of abnormal cell growth. Treatment is more likely to be effective if your cancer can be detected before it has grown too large or spread to other parts of the body.1

Doctors use staging systems to describe a cancer’s location, growth, and spread.2 People with cancer at the earliest stage are usually more likely to survive than patients with cancer at a more advanced stage.1

It is very important to be able to recognise possible early symptoms and signs of cancer, and talk to your doctor if they occur.3

Sometimes it is possible to detect cancer even before any symptoms occur, by using “screening”:3

  • Screening means using simple tests on healthy people3
  • Examples include breast cancer screening using mammography, and cervical cancer screening3
  • These aim to detect these cancers as early as possible (before they have reached the stage of causing symptoms) when treatment is more likely to be successful1,4


  1. Cancer Research UK. Why is early diagnosis important? Accessed March 2016.
  2. Cancer.Net. Breast cancer - stages. Accessed February 2016.
  3. World Health Organization. Early detection of cancer. Accessed March 2016.
  4. World Cancer Day. Early detection. Accessed March 2016.