Early Detection

What is early detection?

  • Early detection is the detection of cancer at the earliest possible stage, when the disease is easiest to treat.
  • Early detection looks to identify those few people at risk of cancer within the larger population, and to assess the best possible actions for those people.
  • Cancers can be detected earlier through a number of approaches, including screening programmes across the population, surveillance of people with high-risk conditions and individual personal education to support early diagnosis of warning signs for potential cancer.

Why is early detection important?

  • When cancer is found earlier, it can be easier to treat successfully – often requiring fewer complex and expensive treatments.
  • The chance of survival is higher for early stage cancers but currently, nearly half of all cancers in England are diagnosed at an advanced stage.
  • Our research aims to help identify cancers earlier so that more patients can benefit from treatment which is likely to cure them, with fewer adverse side effects, and a reduction in the economic burden of advanced cancer.

Early detection research in Oxford

The Oxford Centre for Early Cancer Detection (OxCODE) brings together high calibre multi-disciplinary early cancer detection researchers from across Oxford to collaborate and maximise research outputs in this area. OxCODE’s vision is to harness our existing strengths and expertise to generate a Quantitative Risk Score – the ‘Oxford QR code’– an integrated multi-parameter readout to stratify an individual’s risk of developing malignant cancer. This will enable early detection with accompanying prognostic information for patient benefit.

For more information about Oxford’s early cancer detection research, see the Oxford Centre for Early Cancer Detection website.

The Oxford Centre for Early Cancer Detection welcomes members from across the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals Trust. If you wish to join the OxCODE mailing list to hear about future events and funding opportunities, please email.

More Early Detection research in Oxford:

Image from an endoscopy video with the detected artefacts highlighted with coloured boxes.

Using AI to improve the quality of endoscopy videos

A multidisciplinary team of researchers has developed a deep-learning framework for improving endoscopy to aid cancer detection.

The search for pancreatic cancer biomarkers

Nuffield Department of Population Health researchers are using the China Kadoorie Biobank to identify potential protein biomarkers in the blood that could be used to predict the presence or development of pancreatic cancer

Early stage ‘red flag’ symptoms for pancreatic cancer

The ADEPTS study uses the QResearch database to better understand what ‘red flag’ symptoms may be associated with pancreatic cancer, in the hopes of promoting earlier diagnosis from primary care.

Oxford Cancer alumni’s biotech success

Scenic Biotech, co-founded by former Ludwig Oxford Cancer group leader Sebastian Nijman, collaborates with Roche group member Genentech in a $375m deal

Detecting pancreatic cancer through blood tests

The Song Lab recently developed an effective and accurate way of detecting cancer biomarkers in the blood. Now, they are looking at the application of TAPS technology in pancreatic cancer

Funding boost for OxPLoreD early detection study

UK Research and Innovation provides additional funds for whole genome sequencing as part of the OxPLoreD programme of research into high-risk conditions for blood cancer

Oxfordshire-based SCAN pathway wins BMJ award

A pathway designed to investigate individuals with non-specific but concerning symptoms of cancer wins the BMJ Awards 2020 Cancer Care Team of the Year

Prof. Ellie Barnes comments on the 2020 Nobel Prize for Medicine

Prof Ellie Barnes comments on the recent Nobel Prize in Medicine, awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for their discovery of the Hepatitis C virus, a major global health problem and a cause of cancer

Tackling blood cancers in Tanzania and Uganda

Scientists from Tanzania, Uganda and Oxford University have teamed up in a new child blood cancer program