Urgent Suspected Cancer Referrals: Referral, Conversion and Detection Rates

Data on conversion and detection rates for urgent suspected cancer (USC) referrals are now available for up to 14 tumour types for the first time. This data provides an insight into referral activities and their contribution to diagnostic pathways.

  • Urgent suspected cancer referrals (commonly known as, two-week wait referrals) are used to refer patients with possible cancer symptoms to secondary care for investigation and possible diagnosis.
  • Crude referral rate is the number of urgent suspected cancer referrals multiplied by 100,000 divided by the population. 
  • Conversion rate is the percentage of urgent suspected cancer referrals which result in a diagnosis of cancer.
  • Detection rate is the percentage of cases recorded in the Cancer Waiting Times data as receiving a first treatment for cancer which resulted from an urgent suspected cancer referral.

An interactive tool presenting conversion and detection rates broken down by different metrics comparing geographies, cancer sites and demographics can be found here:

Urgent Suspected Cancer Referrals Conversion and Detection interactive tool

The years included are based on: 

  • Referral rates: The date first seen in secondary care for urgent suspected cancer referrals
  • Conversion rates: The date first seen in secondary care for urgent suspected cancer referrals
  • Detection rates: The treatment start date for patients receiving a first treatment for cancer

Notes

Dataset: Cancer Waiting Times (CWT) data, is provided by NHS England and NHS Improvement, and NHS Digital. This dataset is used to support the management and monitoring of cancer services in England, recording details of all urgent suspected cancer referrals and all patients receiving a first treatment for cancer.

Other data sources:

  • Cancer Services: All-cancer conversion rates and detection rates are available for GP practices, primary care networks and CCGs, based on registered GP practice.
  • Cancer waiting times statistics: Levels of activity and performance for cancer waiting times are available for providers and commissioners.

Acknowledgements:

This work has been produced in collaboration, involving analysts from: the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, Public Health England (PHE); the Cancer Research UK – PHE partnership; the Transforming Cancer Services Team – PHE partnership; and the Cancer Alliance Data, Evaluation and Analysis Service, NHS England and NHS Improvement – PHE partnership.

This work uses data that has been provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support. It is sourced from NHS Digital, and NHS England and NHS Improvement and collated, maintained and quality assured by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, which is part of Public Health England.