About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) presents summary information from the National Cancer Diagnosis Audit (NCDA) in Scotland.

Main points

The purpose of the NCDA is to support service improvement in relation to cancer diagnosis. The main outputs were in the form of direct, tailored feedback reports to participating GP practices, who volunteered to take part. The audit supports reflection, learning and targeted quality improvement and enables primary care to evidence and share existing good practice.

  • 90 GP practices in Scotland (almost 10%) participated in the NCDA in 2019/20. This compares with 73 Scottish practices in the previous NCDA 2016/17. 19 practices participated in both audits.
  • Audit data were provided for a total of 2,318 patients diagnosed with cancer in Scotland during the year 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019.
  • The full report presents information on: types of cancer, cancer stage, place of presentation, consultations, investigations undertaken, referrals made, primary care interval and diagnostic interval, safety netting procedures used and perceived avoidable delays to cancer diagnosis.
Participating GP practices by Regional Cancer Network
Region Number of participating practices Number of diagnoses audited
North Cancer Alliance (NCA) 24 653
South East Scotland Cancer Network (SCAN) 22 566
West of Scotland Cancer Network (WOSCAN)  44 1,099
Scotland 90 2,318


The NCDA Scotland is the Scottish part of a UK-wide audit, coordinated by Cancer Research UK (CRUK). This national report summarises the results for Scotland and is intended to raise awareness of the audit and what it covered; the findings are not intended to be a representative summary of all cancer diagnoses in Scotland during the time period. This is the second time the NCDA has been run in Scotland.

The audit in Scotland was led by PHS, overseen by a Scottish Steering Group. The Steering Group was chaired by CRUK, with representation from the Scottish Primary Care Cancer Group, Macmillan Cancer Support, Scottish Government, Royal College of General Practitioners, a Patient Representative, academic GPs and PHS.

The NCDA Scotland project was approved by the Public Benefit and Privacy Panel for Health and Social Care in Scotland. This included approval for PHS to collect and report on the data, approval for researchers at the universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh to access the Scotland data to undertake further analyses of cancer diagnosis pathways in Scotland and approval for provision of an extract of the Scotland data to Public Health England (PHE) to form a UK dataset (available from the Office for Data Release, ODR, subject to access permissions).

The CRUK NCDA webpages (external website) provide further detail on the audit including: how the audit works, the data items collected, how participating practices have benefited from the audit and quality improvement (QI) resources.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.ncda@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

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To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 03 August 2021
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