The NHS in London treats more people for cancer than pre-pandemic

Thousands more people started vital treatment for cancer in the capital over the last year compared to before the pandemic, according to latest figures.

Over 39,000 people in London received treatment for cancer over the last year (Nov 2021 – Oct 2022) – up by more than 2,700 on the same period pre-pandemic.

More people also had potentially lifesaving NHS cancer checks, with over 433,000 people seen, which is up by 11% on the same period before the pandemic (391,000 in 2019/20) – with over 1600 checks undergone every day.

NHS chiefs have said this is “important progress” as more people getting checked and treated could have a significant impact on cancer survival.

This follows the announcement that staff in high street pharmacies will be funded to spot signs of cancer, with training for pharmacists kicking off this month.

Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London said:

“When cancer is caught at an early stage, treatment is often more effective and the chances of successful recovery are much higher. This is why speeding up cancer diagnosis can make an enormous difference to survival rates.

“It is vital that people are encouraged to come forward for checks if they have symptoms. At the ICR, we have worked with our hospital partner The Royal Marsden to launch the ‘Man Van’, a mobile health clinic that provides free health checks for men to boost early diagnosis of prostate and other urological cancers.”

At Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, teams completed triple their usual number of skin cancer operations in just one day, seeing 32 facial skin cancer patients for predominantly small lump removals. This is part of their ‘Theatres 3.0 project’ which is helping to reduce patient waiting lists by focusing on a high number of the same, or similar, procedures in one day.

Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director for the NHS in London said:

“We saw a record number of cancer checks completed last year in London, which is a huge step in the right direction, as catching cancer earlier is essential in improving health outcomes.

“The NHS in London is continually finding new ways to make cancer screening easy and accessible for everyone, including high street checks and community lung scanning trucks.

“We know that the possibility of a cancer diagnosis can be daunting but if you have a sign or symptom that you’re worried about, such as a persistent cough, lumps or bumps, or prolonged discomfort, please come forward – getting checked out could save your life.”