Early diagnosis of cancer

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced plans for the earlier diagnosis of cancer. 

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As part of the long-term plan for the NHS, a package of measures will be rolled out across the country with the aim of seeing 3 out of 4 of all cancers detected at an early stage by 2028.  The plan will:

  • overhaul screening programmes
  • provide new investment in state-of-the-art technology to transform the process of diagnosis
  • boost research and innovation

Screening programmes will be made more accessible and easier to use. They will be based on the latest breakthrough research and technology. Those at risk will be able to benefit from options including:

  • new tests for bowel cancer
  • mobile lung screening units
  • the roll-out of rapid diagnostic centres across the country with same-day testing

Full story: Government announces plans for earlier diagnosis for cancer patients

Rapid cancer diagnostic and assessment pathways

NHS England has published three rapid cancer diagnostic and assessment pathways.  These documents set out how diagnosis within 14 days and diagnosis within 28 days can be achieved for the colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer pathways:

Implementing a timed colorectal cancer diagnostic pathway:

This handbook sets out how the 28 day standard can be achieved in colorectal cancer patients, in preparation for full monitoring against the standard from April 2020.

Implementing a timed lung cancer diagnostic pathway:

This handbook sets out how the 28 day standard can be achieved for lung cancer patients, in preparation for full monitoring against the standard from April 2020.

Implementing a timed prostate cancer diagnostic pathway:

This handbook sets out how the 28 day standard can be achieved for prostate cancer patients, in preparation for full monitoring against the standard from April 2020.

 

Faster and more accurate diagnosis for prostate cancer

NHS ‘one stop shop’ for prostate cancer means faster and more accurate diagnosis | NHS England

The NHS is using cutting edge technology to help slash diagnosis times for prostate cancer from six weeks to one day in a world-leading new approach that virtually eliminates the risk of deadly sepsis.

The new scanning and diagnosis method means a ‘one-stop-shop’ for suspected prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men in the UK, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

The NHS is determined to cut the mortality rate for prostate cancer in the same way that has seen breast cancer rates decline by 10%.

The usual process is an MRI scan followed by a biopsy where around a dozen samples may have to be taken with a needle through the rectum, in order to locate suspect growths on the prostate.

Under the new ‘rapid pathway’ approach, which is being developed in three hospitals across West London, men have a scan, get their results and can have any necessary biopsy, using new FUSION technology, in one day, rather than multiple outpatient visits over four to six weeks.

Full story at NHS England

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

Researchers have developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer | Via ScienceDaily | Science

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A single blood test has been developed that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer. The test, called CancerSEEK, is a unique noninvasive, multianalyte test that simultaneously evaluates levels of eight cancer proteins and the presence of cancer gene mutations from circulating DNA in the blood. The test is aimed at screening for eight common cancer types that account for more than 60 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. Five of the cancers covered by the test currently have no screening test.

The test was evaluated on 1,005 patients with nonmetastatic, stages I to III cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung or breast. The median overall sensitivity, or the ability to find cancer, was 70 percent and ranged from a high of 98 percent for ovarian cancer to a low of 33 percent for breast cancer. For the five cancers that have no screening tests — ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancers — sensitivity ranged from 69 percent to 98 percent.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Cohen, J. D. et al. | Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test | Science | 18 Jan 2018

Cancer dataset shows improvements in diagnosis

Latest ‘Routes to Diagnosis’ dataset published and finds improvement in the way some cancers are being diagnosed | Public Health England

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Data released by Public Health England has shown a dramatic improvement in the way some cancers are being diagnosed across England.  The publication also pinpoints areas where improvements could still be made.

Key findings from the latest Routes to Diagnosis data include:

  • diagnoses from emergency presentations, where outcomes are the worst, have improved falling from 24% to 20% between 2006 to 2015
  • diagnoses through urgent GP referrals – 2 week waits – have increased significantly from 25% in 2005 to 37% in 2015, meaning that around 110,000 cases are now diagnosed this way
  • diagnoses of pancreatic cancer through emergency presentation – with the very worst outcomes – has fallen by 6%, a significant drop
  • diagnoses of colorectal cancers through the national bowel screening programme – the route with the best survival rate – remain under 10%
  • the number of cancer cases diagnosed in Accident and Emergency varies across the country , ranging from 8% of all cases in the Peninsular Cancer Alliance to 20% of all cases in the London Cancer Alliance – this is despite similar cancer incidence levels

Routes to Diagnosis now includes 10 years’ worth of data, covering more than 3 million cancer cases, making it the most comprehensive dataset of its kind in the world.

Full detail at cancerdata.nhs.uk

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

Prevention of bowel cancer

Bowel Cancer UK has published Finding the Key to the Cures: a plan to end bowel cancer by 2050.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer with 16,000 people dying from the disease, and the fourth most common cancer with over 41,200 people diagnosed each year. The key to reducing the numbers of people dying from this condition is early diagnosis. This report examines ways and methods of increasing earlier detection methods which could transform survival rates and ultimately benefit thousands of people in the future.