NHS England has announced a new cancer investment package, to improve early testing and diagnosis.
£20m will be released to fund the new services, which will include rapid testing, with ‘skin snaps’ used to carry out same-day diagnoses. Tele-dermatology has already been used in Leeds, York and other areas of Yorkshire, with a doctor reviewing the images and providing the diagnosis.
Dame Cally Palmer, NHS National Director for Cancer, said: “The NHS has prioritised cancer treatment throughout the coronavirus pandemic and, alongside caring for 405,000 people with coronavirus in hospitals and delivering over 65 million vaccines, more than 350,000 people have also started treatment for cancer since it began.
“We know that some patients did not come forward but, thanks to the huge efforts of our staff, we’re seeing referral and treatment levels recover.
“From cancer symptom hotlines to skin snaps and rapid triage, NHS staff are once again going to great lengths to ensure that those who are coming forward for checks can continue to be seen quickly, so that cancer can be caught at an earlier stage”.
The money will be used to create nurse directed “lumps and bumps clinics” that will provide ultrasound scans, and a cancer symptom hotline where nurses will give advice on cancer symptoms and make referrals over the phone. The ability to refer patients on the same day as their scan means fewer hospital visits and removes the need to see a consultant for an appointment and referral.
Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer in England, said: “We know that some people were reluctant to seek help during the pandemic so it is good news that we are now seeing higher numbers coming forward for checks. Cancer hasn’t gone away during the pandemic and we would rather see you sooner with cancer that can be easily treated, than later with one that may be more difficult.
“Our message remains the same – if you have a worrying symptom, please do get it checked – the NHS is ready for you”.