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NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Cancer looks at the work being done to support the ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign launched yesterday in conjunction with the Department of Health and Public Health England:
Through the latest Be Clear on Cancer campaign we are encouraging people who get out of breath doing things they used to be able to do, or have had a cough for three weeks or more, to see their GP and have their symptoms checked out.
The earlier we diagnose patients, the higher the likelihood of successful treatment that can cure cancer or improve quality of life for patients.
Previous national Be Clear on Cancer campaigns had an encouraging impact on early diagnosis and clinical outcomes for patients. In the period following the first national lung cancer campaign, around 700 more people were diagnosed, 400 more were diagnosed at an early stage compared with the same period in the previous year, and around 300 more had surgery as a first treatment.
To be sure we are able to see improved outcomes from the Be Clear on Cancer campaigns, once people come forward to their GP with symptoms that need investigating, our diagnostic services must be fit-for-purpose.
This is a cornerstone of the independent Cancer Taskforce report. Our recently-launched implementation plan lays out the first steps we are taking towards delivering the improvements we need, including an additional £15million investment in earlier diagnosis this year.
We have asked CCGs to plan for appropriate diagnostic services in this year’s Planning Guidance, and are boosting this with a National Diagnostics Capacity Fund for projects and initiatives across the country to create long-term transformation and sustainability in diagnostic services.
We are also moving forward with work to ensure that, by 2020, all patients referred by their GP with a suspicion of cancer, including those who come forward as a result of a Be Clear on Cancer campaign, receive a diagnosis or have cancer ruled out within 28 days. We have selected five test sites, drawn from across England, to test the rules for the new standard, and over the coming months will be working with them to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by the new standard.
Early diagnosis is crucial to improving outcomes from cancer and many other serious diseases. These initiatives represent the first major strides of the national cancer programme towards making earlier diagnosis a reality for the thousands of people diagnosed with cancer each year.
- You can find more information and resources on the campaign here.