Substantial steps are being made towards early diagnosis. A range of tools are available to help GPs appropriately categorise early symptoms during routine consultations. Various promising new tests and devices are being explored, especially for cancers that frequently present at late stages. The continuing increase in demand on endoscopy services is a major concern, not least because of the shortage of trained practitioners and other healthcare staff. However, screening and collaborative streamlining initiatives might help to improve the relevance of referrals. The question posed in the title of the conference was rhetorical, but a positive answer seems potentially achievable, even in austere times, through facilitating uptake of screening, working to develop the primary-secondary care interface, educating the public and by protecting funds for research.