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Plans to speed up cancer diagnosis

Friday 16th January 2015
NHS England has launched a new programme to find innovative new ways of diagnosing cancer. Image Credit: Ingram Publishing
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Patients will now be allowed to refer themselves for diagnostic tests, as part of a new programme launched by NHS England to boost cancer survival rates.

The announcement will also see more than 60 sites across the country be used to test innovative new ways to diagnose the disease. Led by Cancer Research UK's chief executive Harpal Kumar, NHS England also launched an independent taskforce to develop a five-year action plan for cancer services.

The taskforce has given the challenge of delivering goals outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View, which focused on three main areas: better prevention, swifter diagnosis, and better treatment, care and aftercare for all those diagnosed with cancer. As well as Mr Kumar, it will include leading experts in the field, as well as patients groups and charity leaders such as Macmillan Cancer Support and Public Health England.

The 60 sites will be used to test new ways of detecting cancer at an earlier stage, while a further £15 million will be allocated to evaluate and treat patients with a type of modern radiotherapy over three years.

These measures are important, given that the UK is well below the European average in terms of cancer survival rates, despite the fact that significant improvements have been made in the last few decades. Across the country, more than a third of people will develop cancer and half of these will live for at least ten years.

Speaking about the announcement, Mr Kumar said: “The Five-Year-Forward View has set out a compelling vision for the delivery of health services. We now need to turn the vision into a reality for the thousands of patients diagnosed with cancer every week."

With an increase of a third expected in the number of cancer diagnoses over the next 15 years, Mr Kumar said the time is now right to "set new ambitions and to take a fresh look" at how these needs can be met.

Written by Angela Newbury

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