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Policy Research Unit

The Policy Research Unit in Cancer Awareness, Screening and Early Diagnosis is funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme.

The Unit has a five-year programme to research policy issues in the three broad areas of cancer awareness, cancer screening, and early diagnosis of cancer, to inform policies for improving stage at presentation of cancer and thus reducing mortality from the disease.

  1. Overview
  2. Projects
  3. Staff

The Unit is a collaboration of 14 leading scientists from seven institutions, with Professor Stephen Duffy of Queen Mary, University of London as director.

Major areas of activity of the Unit include:

  • Studies of variation in awareness across England and associations with cancer survival
  • Further analysis of the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership data
  • Quantification of the predictive value of symptoms for cancer
  • Investigation of the relationship between diagnostic intervals and stage of cancer
  • Studies of GP referral habits for suspected cancer
  • Identification of the risk factors for late stage or emergency presentation of cancer
  • Evaluation of the benefits and harms of the national screening programmes for breast, bowel and cervical cancer
  • Identifying barriers to participation in cancer screening and researching policies to improve access and therefore participation
  • Qualitative research on the role of general practice in early diagnosis of cancer
  • Case-control evaluations of the breast and bowel screening programmes in the UK
  • In-depth study of factors influencing GP referrals for suspected lung cancer
  • Trials of telephone, written and face-to-face reminders to improve breast and bowel cancer screening adherence
  • Survey of potential cancer symptoms in the general population
  • Area-level identification of barriers to participation in cervical screening
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