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

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New approach to NHS clinical assessment could save thousands of lives

NHS England is asking every hospital trust to adopt the Royal College of Physicians’ new clinical assessment system, The National Early Warning
Score (NEWS) 

The National Early Warning Score (NEWS) has been produced by the Royal College of Physicians and is backed by the Royal College for Emergency Medicine, NHS Improvement, the Association of Ambulance Chairs and Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director for NHS England.

The system was developed by the Royal College of Physicians with the aim of creating a standardised approach to clinical assessment across the country.

It is estimated that the NEWS is now being used in over 70% of trusts but NHS England is setting the goal of having the system in place across every acute and ambulance setting by 2019.

Having the NEWS adopted as the standard system will mean NHS staff who move between trusts are using a consistent set of measures for diagnosing patients.

Full story at NHS England

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.

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

New device accurately identifies cancer in seconds

Handheld device can identify cancerous tissue in 10 seconds, with 96% accuracy. | story via ScienceDaily

A team of scientists at The University of Texas has invented a handheld device that quickly and accurately identifies cancerous tissue during surgery, delivering results in about 10 seconds. The MasSpec Pen is a handheld instrument that gives surgeons precise diagnostic information about what tissue to cut or preserve, helping improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence.

In tests on tissues removed from 253 human cancer patients, the MasSpec Pen took about 10 seconds to provide a diagnosis and was more than 96 percent accurate. The technology was also able to detect cancer in marginal regions between normal and cancer tissues that presented mixed cellular composition. The team expects to start testing this new technology during oncologic surgeries in 2018.

Full story at ScienceDaily

See also: BBC News: ‘Pen’ identifies cancer in 10 seconds

Full reference: Zhang, J. et al. Nondestructive tissue analysis for ex vivo and in vivo cancer diagnosis using a handheld mass spectrometry system  Science Translational Medicine 06 Sep 2017: Vol. 9, Issue 406