Non-surgical cancer treatments workforce

Full team ahead: understanding the UK non-surgical cancer treatments workforce. Cancer Research UK 

This report from Cancer Research UK investigates the current and future needs, capacity, and skills of the non-surgical oncology workforce to provide optimal treatment to the UK population.  This is the first time UK-wide data has been collected on the non-surgical oncology workforce as a whole and it identifies gaps in the data. Interviews with workforce groups were carried out to confirm the accuracy of data collection done by health services and professional bodies.

The report ‘Full team ahead’ outlines the findings and recommendations from this research.

Full team ahead

Additional link: Royal College of Radiologists press release

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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

Bowel cancer screening

Public Health England is calling on all men and women, aged over 60, to get screened for bowel cancer after the latest figures show over 40% are not getting tested. Embarrassment over providing a stool sample is one of the reasons, among men in particular, behind thousands being unnecessarily at risk of dying.

Bowel cancer screening is offered to all men and women aged 60 to 74, who are sent a home test kit to provide stool samples.  There were over 3,000 bowel cancers diagnosed as a result of screening in 2016 to 2017. In over 90% of these cases, cancers were found at an early stage, where treatment is more likely to be successful.

nhs screening

Image source: http://www.gov.uk

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in England, but the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with around 13,000 people dying from it every year.

If detected early, bowel cancer is very treatable which is why screening is vital and it has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16%.

The latest NHS Screening Programmes in England annual report details the progress and activities of the NHS population screening programmes.

PHE press release: Men and women asked not to miss out on bowel screening

NHS England action to save lives by catching more cancers early

NHS England announces the scaling up of an innovative scheme that catches lung cancer early by scanning patients, along with new details of a more sensitive bowel cancer test that could save thousands of lives.

NHS England is now funding scanners in other areas as part of a national programme to diagnose cancer earlier, improve the care for those living with cancer and ensure each cancer patient gets the right care for them. This follows the success of the Manchester scanner scheme, where mobile scanners are detecting four out of five cases of lung cancer in the early stages when it is easier to treat. The mobile scanning trucks have picked up one cancer for every 33 patients scanned over the course of a year.

Plans for ‘FIT’, a more sensitive bowel cancer test that could see as many as 1,500 more cancer caught earlier every year have also been confirmed.

‘FIT’ is an easy to use home testing kit which predicts bowel cancer, following the introduction of the test almost a third of a million more people are expected to complete screening. The sensitivity level determines the number of people who should go on for further cancer testing.

 

NICE approves breakthrough breast cancer drugs

NICE confirms that it will recommend that breakthrough cancer drugs palbociclib and ribociclib be provided on the NHS for women with advanced breast cancer| story via OnMedica

There are around 45,000 new diagnosis of breast cancer each year in England and it is estimated that around 8,000 of these people would be eligible for treatment with either palbociclib or ribociclib.

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In draft guidance, NICE said breast cancer patients should have routine access to these two life extending drugs after a new deal with their manufacturing companies who agreed to lower the price and who gave more evidence for their effectiveness.

Palbociclib (Ibrance) from Pfizer and ribociclib (Kisqali) from Norvatis, are recommended for people with hormone receptor (HR) positive, HER2 negative locally advanced or secondary breast cancer.

NICE said that although there were some uncertainties on how long they extend the life expectancy of people with this type of breast cancer, these promising new drugs were found to stall the growth of cancer for an extra 10 months on average.

UK has 6th highest rate of obesity – OECD

Health at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators | Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development | OnMedica

A report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that the UK has the sixth highest rate of adult obesity. The report looks at health indicators across its 100 member countries.

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It shows that almost 27% of the adult population of the UK is obese, compared with the OECD average of 19.4%. The UK has a smoking prevalence of 16.1%, which is below the OECD average of 18.4%.

However average alcohol consumption per UK adult is higher than the OECD average, with consumption averaging at 9.5 litres per adult.

The report highlights cancer by way of an example of both the good progress made and continuing challenges. Cancer survival has improved over time, due in part to high screening rates. Breast and rectal cancer survival rates are now slightly higher than the OECD average, with, respectively, 85.6% and 62.5% of people diagnosed living for at least a further five years, versus 85% and 61% in the OECD as a whole. Both rose at a faster pace than average over the course of ten years. But bowel cancer survival is still below the OECD average (60% compared to 62.8%), and overall cancer mortality rates remain relatively high (222 deaths per 100 000 people, compared with an OECD average of 204).

Full document: Health at a glance 2017 – OECD indicators.

Breast cancer can return 20 years after treatment

Risk of certain breast cancers coming back remains for at least 20 years after treatment | New England Journal of Medicine | Story via Cancer Research UK

Research, carried out by The Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group collected data from more than 60,000 women who had been diagnosed with hormone sensitive breast cancer (usually called oestrogen receptor positive or ER+ breast cancer) between 1976 and 2011.

All of the patients were given a type of anti-oestrogen therapy for five years as part of their treatment. At the five year mark the women had no signs that their breast cancer had come back and treatment ended.

The figures, published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that out of the women included in the study, 11,000 had their cancer come back in another part of the body such as the bone, liver and lung in the 15 years after stopping treatment. They also showed that the risk of cancer coming back remained the same year on year from when they stopped taking the anti-oestrogen drugs to 15 years later.

Full story at Cancer Research UK

Full reference: Pan, H. et al. (2017) 20-Year Risks of Breast-Cancer Recurrence after Stopping Endocrine Therapy at 5 YearsNew England Journal of Medicine.