NHS takes 40 days to diagnose patients with cancer, study finds

The average time for a patient in England to be diagnosed with cancer is 40 days, a new study suggests | British Journal of General Practice | story via The Independent

Research published in the British Journal of General Practice has found that in 2014 the median number of days from first relevant presentation to the date of diagnosis was 40 days. This ranged from 15 days to 86 days.

The findings identify avenues for quality improvement activity and provide a baseline for future audit of the impact of 2015 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance on management and referral of suspected cancer.

Health officials have set a target for all cancer patients to be diagnosed within 28 days by 2020.

Full reference: Swann, R. et al. | Diagnosing cancer in primary care: results from the National Cancer Diagnosis Audit | British Journal of General Practice | 18 December 2017


Diagnosing cancer in primary care

The British Journal of General Practice has published Diagnosing cancer in primary care: results from the National Cancer Diagnosis Audit. This audit shows that GPs are doing a good job at identifying patients they suspect of having cancer, and referring them in an appropriate and timely manner within five days of initial presentation. The findings highlight the usefulness of audits in taking a stocktake of where primary cancer is in cancer diagnosis across the NHS, and identifying areas for improvement moving forward.

Oesophago-Gastric cancer audit report

The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership has published National Oesophago-Gastric Cancer Audit Report 2017. This 2017 annual report provides the most up-to-date information on the care and outcomes of patients diagnosed with OG cancer or oesophageal high grade dysplasia. The information is primarily published to support the quality improvement activities in hospitals providing OG cancer care as well as the commissioners of cancer services.

More cancer specialists to be employed by the NHS

New specialists will speed up cancer diagnoses and improve access to treatment

The UK is facing increased demand for cancer treatments based on the growing number of cases of cancer diagnosed each year and the fact that people are living for longer with cancer. Around 357,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with cancer in 2014. In the year 2022, it has been projected that there will be around 422,000 new cases.

The NHS is to employ more cancer specialists, to speed up cancer diagnoses and get more people into treatment more quickly. The specialists will be trained in areas where there are shortages. It is part of Health Education England’s new Cancer Workforce Plan.

Announcements of extra provision include:

  • 200 clinical endoscopists – to investigate suspected cancers internally
  • 300 reporting radiographers – to identify cancers using x-rays and ultrasound
  • support for clinical nurse specialists – to lead services and provide quality care

The plan is part of a campaign to make sure patients are diagnosed quickly and get better access to innovative treatments that can improve survival rates.

Further detail at HEE: Health Education England unveils plan to transform the future NHS cancer workforce

Prostate cancer surgery reduction

The National Prostate Cancer and the Royal College of Surgeons have published Annual Report 2017 Results of the NPCA Prospective Audit in England and Wales for men diagnosed from 1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016.  This report presents national demographic information on patients diagnosed with prostate cancer, key aspects of the diagnostic and staging process they underwent and treatments received.  It describes variation in disease presentation across providers and presents performance indicators related to short-term treatment outcomes for men undergoing radical prostatectomy.

Additional link: Royal College of Surgeons press release

Lung cancer audit

The Royal College of Physicians and The Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland have published Lung cancer clinical outcomes publication 2017 (for surgical operations performed in 2015.   This report focuses on the activity of surgeons or their specific contribution to lung cancer care. The data relate to patients diagnosed with lung cancer who underwent surgical operations during 2015.