Treatment, innovation and personalised care

Multi million pound funding bid launched

In March, we launched an open call for innovation in cancer care with funding available for the best ideas. This closed in April and 51 applications were submitted, addressing early diagnosis and/or diagnostic efficiency.

Bids included ideas for medical devices, digital health and equipment, behaviour interviewed in July, with funding decisions to be made thereafter. We are delivering this in partnership with SBRI Healthcare Programme.

All entries must demonstrate how they will benefit patients by detecting cancer early and improving diagnostic efficiency.

Progresssing with PillCam

Miniature cameras that patients can swallow to get checked for cancer are now being trialled across the NHS. The imaging technology, in a capsule no bigger than a pill, can provide a diagnosis within hours.

The cameras are the latest NHS innovation to help patients access cancer checks at home. Traditional endoscopies mean patients need to attend hospital and have a tube inserted whereas the new technology means that people can go about their normal day.

An initial group of 11,000 NHS patients in England will receive the capsule cameras in more than 40 parts of the country.

York University will evaluate the pilot and are working with all sites Research and Development Teams to collect data on each CCE procedure performed.

The National Cancer Team are now agreeing the specification from the patient experience evaluation which will enable us to understand patients views of the procedure, informing any future roll out following the pilot In the next quarter, nine more sites will start using the technology, meaning the pilot will be befitting patients in every Cancer Alliance area in England.

  • 36 sites are now operational with 12 more due to come on board throughout this year
  • 86 trainees to date have completed the minimally invasive gastroenterrology reader training
  • A further course was launched in June following increased interest from pilot sites.

 Cytosponge Trial

From January 2021, a sponge on a string is being trialled across the NHS to rapidly prioritise patients that are most at risk of developing oesophageal cancer.

The sponge is in a vitamin size capsule that is swallowed whilst holding onto the string. The capsule dissolves and the sponge expands, and when retrieved, it collects cells from the oesophagus that are analysed in a laboratory.

Cytosponge, as it is known, is being offered to patients at multiple trusts across the country as an alternative to a more invasive endoscopy.

Anna Jewell, Chair, Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce:

The Cytosponge is an enormously positive development in our fight against oesophageal cancer. We know that people are often reluctant to visit their doctor when they have digestive symptoms because they are fearful of endoscopies and other invasive diagnostic procedures.

Delaying that first appointment can have fatal consequences for people with oesophageal and other less survivable cancers.

The Cytosponge is less invasive and stressful for the patient. We feel sure that this innovation is going to lead to faster and earlier diagnoses and ultimately save lives.

New clinical audits

In May, we announced that we are commissioning five new cancer clinical audits, aimed at reducing variation in cancer treatment in the following five cancer types:

  • Ovarian
  • Pancreatic
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Kidney
  • Metastatic breast cancer

These will be in addition to the audits already carried out for lung, bowel, prostate, oesophageal and breast cancer in older people. These cancer types have been chosen because our analysis suggests they are the five cancers for which audits would have most potential to reduce unwarranted variation in treatment and outcomes, and so do most to support the delivery of the survival ambition in the Long Term Plan.

Healthcare Quality Improvements Partnership (HQIP) will scope and commission the audits; the first data will be expected in 2023. We have also provided additional resource to Cancer Alliances to facilitate the implementation of Trust level and other improvement programmes, to support the implementation of recommendations from audits.

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