New “one-stop shop” NHS clinics that plan to test and diagnose cancer within two weeks begin trials today.
The programme, rolled out by NHS England in partnership with Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, aims to “ensure a quick diagnosis in those not showing ‘alarm’ signals for a specific form of cancer”, the Daily Mail reports.
Patients with symptoms such as weight loss, abdominal pain and fatigue can be referred to the centres by their GPs.
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The ten hospitals participating in the trial will carry out a series of scans, blood tests and other investigations during one appointment, “aiming to identify their problems without months of shuttling between different specialists”, The Times reports.
Sky News adds that some patients may be able to “receive a definitive diagnosis or be given the all-clear on the same day” as their tests.
Sara Bainbridge, policy manager for Cancer Research UK, said: “In some cases, such as finding a lump on a breast or a patient coughing up blood, there are very obvious warnings of cancer.
“But there are other symptoms which are much less specific and a GP may not know which cancer to test for.
“The aim of the one-stop shops is that instead of ping-ponging between the GP and hospital while different tests are carried out, a multi-disciplinary team will be able to carry out a range of tests.
“In this way we will reach an earlier diagnosis, which in turn can make a huge difference to survival rates.”
Cally Palmer, national director for cancer at NHS England, added: “Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind for patients, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionise our approach to cancer in this country.
“These new one-stop shops represent a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated.”
The trial comes as former Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley called for better NHS screening after revealing his own bowel cancer diagnosis.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Lansley said he was “lucky” to have visited his GP before the cancer had spread.
He added: “I want to know that for others like me in future, with better knowledge about symptoms, with earlier improved screening in place, and with a new focus on personalised preventative medicine, it really isn’t about luck.”
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