NHS England action to save lives by catching more cancers early

NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, will today announce the scaling up of an innovative scheme that catches lung cancer early by scanning patients, along with new details of a more sensitive bowel cancer test that could save thousands of lives.

Speaking at the Economist War on Cancer event in London, he will highlight the success of the Manchester scanner scheme, where mobile scanners are detecting four out of five cases of lung cancer in the early stages when it is easier to treat. The mobile scanning trucks have picked up one cancer for every 33 patients scanned over the course of a year.

NHS England is now funding scanners in other areas as part of a national programme to diagnose cancer earlier, improve the care for those living with cancer and ensure each cancer patient gets the right care for them.

Plans for ‘FIT’, a more sensitive bowel cancer test that could see as many as 1,500 more cancer caught earlier every year, will be confirmed.

‘FIT’ is an easy to use home testing kit which predicts bowel cancer, following the introduction of the test almost a third of a million more people are expected to complete screening. The sensitivity level determines the number of people who should go on for further cancer testing.

NHS England is committing to expanded cancer screening to more than four million people in 2018.

Speaking at the event, Simon Stevens will say: “NHS cancer care is the best it’s ever been, with cancer survival increasing every year. Over the next 18 months the NHS will be rolling out new mobile and home screening kits to detect cancers earlier, when they can be treated best.”

New reports released today also show more people with lung cancer are having successful surgery and living longer. For men with prostate cancer, the news is also good, with fewer undergoing radical prostatectomy or receiving unnecessary treatment.

The introduction of the FIT bowel cancer screening test is a major weapon in our armoury – potentially diagnosing up to 1,500 more people a year and saving lives.

Supermarket scans boost early lung cancer diagnoses

A Manchester lung cancer pilot, offering smokers and ex-smokers free health checks and on-the-spot scans, has proved so successful it is being rolled-out more widely.

A pilot programme that scanned more than 2,500 people in three deprived areas of Manchester, where lung cancer is more prevalent, discovered 46 cases of cancer. Of these, 80% were early stage one and two diagnoses. This pilot programme quadrupled the early diagnosis rates for lung cancer in Manchester.

Now the scheme, funded by the Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups through the Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership and Macmillan Cancer Support, is being rolled-out across the whole of north Manchester, an area which has the highest number of lung cancer deaths among the under-75s in England.

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Research set to revolutionise prostate cancer treatment

A pilot programme that uses high-definition magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans is reducing average prostate cancer diagnosis time to just eight days and referral-to-treatment time to 20 days.

The new process sees patients receiving an MRI scan and report, a clinical review and, if necessary, a targeted biopsy all on the same day. It is also more accurate, with studies suggesting that the new approach almost doubles the chance of finding important life-threatening prostate cancers.

Funded by the National Cancer Transformation Programme, the project is based on ground-breaking research into the benefits of using MRI scans before consultation with patients who have abnormal results from a PSA test – the blood test currently used by GPs to diagnose prostate problems.

The research shows up to a third of patients who receive an MRI scan which indicates nothing suspicious could be safely discharged back to their GP without undergoing an invasive biopsy.

Patients whose MRI was reported as ‘suspicious’ have targeted biopsies on the same day, and within a week they see a specialist consultant to discuss the results.

Three NHS Trusts in west London are piloting this new model of care and they are working with Prostate Cancer UK and others to develop a set of standards for the new model.