NHS England and NHS Digital create new cancer quality of life dashboard

A new data dashboard, which illustrates quality of life levels for cancer patients in England, has been launched by the NHS.

Teams from NHS England and NHS Improvement, and NHS Digital, worked on the project, which uses data from national surveys.

People with cancer are being asked to complete the ‘cancer quality of life survey’ around 18 months after diagnosis, sharing their experiences through two questionnaires that measure overall health and quality of life.

It’s hoped that the survey results and the data reporting site will help inform improvements to care, and be useful for research, with the ultimate goal of boosting life quality and cancer care for patients across England.

The dashboard allows users to compare the results from cancer patients with survey results from the ‘general population’, as well as to filter responses for different cancer types and patient groups. The information currently includes questionnaire responses received up to 12 September 2021.

As well as looking at survey scores from the questionnaires, the site’s aforementioned filter options offer the ability to look at data by multiple ‘patient factors’ at a time, such as sex and age, or by geographical area and the three cancer types – breast, colorectal, and prostate. For example, it’s possible to view a breakdown of breast cancer responses by either age group or sex, nationally or by region/Cancer Alliance.

Future updates to the dashboard are expected to feature the inclusion of more cancer types, as well as allow for more comparisons between different geographical regions, different stages of diagnosis and treatment, and year on year comparisons.

To find out more about the respondents so far, and how many people have taken part, dashboard users can select options to break down the demographic results of the 34,387 people who have completed the cancer quality of life survey.

Presently, this involves choosing from a drop down menu of Cancer Alliances and NHS regions. For example, it’s possible to view response rates in the North East and Yorkshire (region), or more specifically in West Yorkshire and Harrogate or South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw (Cancer Alliances). Whether viewing regionally or nationally, you’ll see the response rates by cancer type, age group at diagnosis and sex, and by ethnic group.

So far, the national overall health summary score, also known as the EQ-5D index, displays results from the questionnaire measuring overall health (EQ-5D). It shows that the average rating for overall health, which is based on five questions, is 75.2 out of a maximum of 100, for cancer patients. The general population survey result, meanwhile, is recorded as 81.8.

For self-rated overall health, which was based on a single question where respondents rated their health from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best, returned an average score of 75.7 for all cancer survey respondents, and 75.9 for the general population.

Further tables show the number of people reporting problems encountered in areas such as mobility, pain, anxiety and depression, usual activities, and self-care, as well as the severity of these problems. While, quality of life is assessed in categories such as work or leisure, social life, physical and emotional aspects, and memory and concentration, as well as through symptom scores.

The full dashboard is available to view here, and the site states that, “information is collated, maintained and quality assured by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, which is part of NHS Digital.”

Other cancer stats and information, such as cancer referrals and detection rates, radiotherapy information, net survival rates, and cancer prevalence are also available through CancerData.