78 NHS trusts to receive new cancer screening machines

78 trusts will receive funding for new machines that will improve patient experience and lead to earlier diagnosis | via Department of Health and Social Care

The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust is one of 78 trusts that will benefit from funding for new cancer testing and detection technology.  The new machines will improve screening and early diagnosis of cancer, and are part of the government’s commitment to ensure 55,000 more people survive cancer each year.


Last month the Prime Minister announced the extra £200 million in funding for new cancer screening equipment. 78 trusts will receive funding over the next 2 years to replace, refurbish and upgrade:

  • CT and MRI scanners – bringing in alternatives with lower radiation levels
  • breast screening imaging and assessment equipment

Replacing and upgrading machines will improve efficiency by:

  • making them easier to use
  • being quicker to scan and construct images
  • reducing the need to re-scan

This new equipment also brings new capability, with many machines enabled for artificial intelligence (AI) so the NHS is ready for the challenges of the future.

Each trust has been allocated funding for new machines based on an assessment of local infrastructure and local population need. They will all contribute to the NHS Long Term Plan’s goal of catching three-quarters of all cancers earlier when they are easier to treat.

Full story at Department of Health and Social Care

See also: Full list of trusts that will receive funding.

Cancer Research UK funding tops half a billion pounds

Cancer Research UK raised £540m in fundraising income in the last financial year, an increase of 2 per cent over the previous year, in one of its most successful fundraising years so far.

This increase was in part thanks to more money raised from legacy donations, Race for Life and Stand Up To Cancer, which all raised more than the previous year.  And an additional £2m was raised via Facebook charitable giving, an innovative new fundraising platform that launched towards the end of the year.

Total income for the year was £672m, an increase of 6% on the previous year, which includes fundraising income as well as £125m income from charitable activities – the largest amount ever received, which will be reinvested in research.

Key achievements outlined in Cancer Research UK’s annual report and accounts,  include:

  • Securing a strong commitment to early cancer diagnosis in the NHS Long Term Plan.
  • Three new international Grand Challenge teams awarded £20m each over the next five years, to solve long-standing mysteries in cancer research
  • Launching the Cancer Research UK City of London Centre, a £14m investment to create a world-leading cancer therapeutics research hub.
  • Launching a new Brain Tumour Award funding scheme, to accelerate progress in research on brain tumours.

Full press release at Cancer Research UK

NHS waiting times for elective and cancer treatment

This report examines waiting time standards for elective and cancer treatment and factors associated with performance in meeting these standards | National Audit Office


This review presents data on the NHS’s performance against current waiting times standards for elective and cancer care in England, and some of the factors associated with that performance. It draws together existing evidence and analysis by the Department, NHS England, NHS Improvement and other stakeholders. The National Audit Office builds on this evidence base with it’s own analysis to provide added insight into:

  • changes in waiting times performance, and variations in that performance;
  • the impact of waiting times performance on patients;
  • the factors that influence waiting times performance; and
  • NHS England’s and NHS Improvement’s approach to managing and improving waiting times performance.

The report concludes that while increased demand and funding constraints affect the entire system, other factors are linked with differences in performance both over time and across trusts. These include staff shortages for diagnostic services, a lack of available beds, inefficient processes and, in some cases, patient choices. The report calls for significant investment in staffing and infrastructure to meet new commitments outlined in the new NHS Long Term Plan.

See also: NHS must focus on routine care to tackle growing waiting lists, says spending watchdog | BMJ

PM announces funding for research into prostate cancer

NIHR | April 2018 | Prime minister announces £75 million to support new prostate cancer research

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. It has recently overtaken breast cancer as the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK. Now, £75 million funding has been announced by the Prime Minister to support new research into early diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.  This will be used to complement and extend research undertaken over the past 15 years by the NIHR, Cancer Research UK, Prostate Cancer UK and the Medical Research Council.


New studies will  test treatments such as more precise radiotherapy, high-intensity focused ultrasound, and cryotherapy, alongside supportive  interventions including exercise and dietary advice.

They will also particularly target groups at higher risk of prostate cancer, such as black men – one in four of whom will develop the disease – men aged 50 or over, and men with a family history of prostate cancer.

Dr Jonathan Sheffield, Chief Executive at the NIHR Clinical Research Network, said:

“Clinical research brings us closer to the development of new treatments for prostate cancer patients.

“The NIHR will work closely with the NHS, life sciences industry, charities and research funders to support the recruitment of 40,000 men into research studies over the next five years. This will provide more opportunities for earlier access to new drugs and therapies, which will ultimately lead to improved diagnoses and care in the future.”

Full story at NIHR 

In the media:

ITV News PM announces £75m for prostate cancer research

The Guardian Theresa May launches £75m drive against prostate cancer


Transformation fund call to bid

To support the implementation of the Five Year Forward View vision of better health, better patient care and improved NHS efficiency, NHS England has created a transformation fund | NHS England


The interventions for which transformation funding are available are:

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are central to this process and all bids should be explicitly linked to the relevant local STP plans. This process is open to any STP, although individual organisations or alliances may bid on behalf of an STP for this funding; submission of applications must be via STPs.

Read the full overview here

Cancer drugs, survival, and ethics

Wise, P.H. (2016) BMJ. 355:i5792

Despite considerable investment and innovation, chemotherapy drugs have had little effect on survival in adults with metastatic cancer. Peter Wise explores the ethical issues relating to research, regulation, and practice

Cancer survival has improved in recent decades. Trends in the US show that five year relative survival in adults with solid cancer has increased from 49% to 68% over 40 years. There have been important advances in chemotherapy in recent years, including for melanoma, medullary thyroid cancer, and prostate cancer. Immunotherapy, together with targeted and precision (personalised) approaches guided by patient and tumour biomarkers, also produces benefit in subgroups of the more common cancers. But how much of the improvement in cancer survival can we attribute to drugs?

Read the full discussion here

Radiotherapy gets the investment it needs

Samuel, E. Cancer Research UK – Science Blog. Published online: 25 October 2016

NHS Refresh

Today NHS England announced that it will invest £130m over the next couple of years in new radiotherapy machines.

This is great news. Especially when research has shown that for some types of cancer, more advanced radiotherapy techniques – which the newer machines can provide – are what patients need.

It was around 4 years ago that we first raised the issue that England’s radiotherapy machines were becoming out of date and needed to be replaced. A point we’ve raised time and time again since.

So we were pleased when support for buying new machines featured in England’s cancer strategy, published last year.

And it’s fantastic that the NHS is now dedicating money to this unsung hero of cancer treatment.

Read the full blog post here


Characteristics and Conflicts of Public Speakers at Meetings of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee to the US Food and Drug Administration

Abola, M. V. & Prasad, V. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online February 01, 2016

This study reviewed transcripts of meetings of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee to the US Food and Drug Administration to characterize potential financial and other conflicts of interest of public speakers.

The Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee advises the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about medications for the treatment of cancer. The committee’s meeting agenda typically includes presentations by both a company seeking marketing approval for an oncologic drug that it sponsors and by the FDA, as well as a public hearing for comments by other speakers. Speakers may be patients with cancer or may represent patient advocacy organizations, and speakers are asked to disclose financial associations with the sponsoring company or other relevant financial associations.

Read the abstract here

NICE rejects trastuzumab emtansine for use on NHS

BMJ 2015;351:h6837

The advanced breast cancer treatment trastuzumab emtansine (marketed by Roche as Kadcyla) will not be available through normal funding routes on the NHS in England, final guidance from the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has said.


The drug has been licensed to treat HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer that has stopped responding to initial treatment. It is capable of extending the life of patients with advanced breast cancer by six months, but the cost of £90 000 (€130 000; $140 000) for an average course of treatment (14.5 months) gives trastuzumab a cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) of £166 000, well above the normal threshold for drugs used at the end of life of around £50 000 per QALY.

In October trastuzumab emtansine was one of five drugs that were reinstated to the list of drugs paid for by England’s Cancer Drugs Fund after a discount from Roche, although the size of the price reduction was not disclosed.2 This meant that women in England will continue to have access to the drug until April next year, when a new cancer drugs fund is due to be launched.

Read the full story via BMJ