‘Skin snaps’ and rapid tests for same day diagnosis are among a package of measures to get more people checked for cancer, the NHS said today.
The NHS is investing £20 million to speed up the rollout of these plans, so that thousands more people can get potentially lifesaving cancer checks.
‘Teledermatology’ is being used to diagnose skin cancer faster, with pictures taken by a medical photographer sent to hospitals so diagnosis and treatment can happen quickly.
The technology has already been used in Leeds, York and Mid-Yorkshire – with a doctor reviewing an image of the patient’s skin for diagnosis.
New efforts to speed up diagnosis for prostate cancer are also seeing patients referred directly for an MRI scan by nurses, rather than having to wait for an appointment with a consultant. This has reduced multiple visits to a single visit, with all diagnostic tests carried out on the same day.
The NHS Long Term Plan committed to catching three quarters of cancers early, when they are easier to treat, up from half at present.
The funding will help target even more patients and help cancer services manage with higher numbers of people referred.
It will also include a boost for nurse-led ‘lumps and bumps clinics’ that will offer examinations and same day ultrasounds, and a cancer symptom hotline, which will see nurses give patients advice about concerning cancer symptoms and make referrals over the phone.
Referrals and treatment levels for cancer are back to pre-pandemic levels with latest data showing more than 207,000 people were checked in May – 100,000 more than in the same month last year.
Over 25,000 started treatment in the same period with the overwhelming majority starting within a month.
NHS chiefs are encouraging people to come forward for a check that they may have put off during the pandemic.
Dame Cally Palmer, NHS National Director for Cancer, said:
Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer in England, said:
Minister for Health, Jo Churchill said:
Early in the pandemic, the NHS introduced a range of innovative measures to keep cancer patients safe during the pandemic – enabling access to 43 ‘COVID friendly’ treatments that reduce the impact on a patients’ immune system or the number of hospital visits required, many of which have now been adopted as standard treatments by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
‘COVID-secure’ surgical hubs were also established so cancer patients could have their surgery in environments separated from the risk of COVID infection.