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NHS catching more cancers earlier than ever before

By November 11, 2022No Comments

The NHS is diagnosing more patients with cancer at an earlier stage than ever before, according to new analysis.

Last year (2021-2022), over 100,000 (100,461) patients were diagnosed with cancer at stages one or two when it is easier to treat – the highest proportion on record.

Record numbers of people are getting checked for cancer – almost half a million more patients were checked between March 2021 and August 2022, compared to the same period before the pandemic.

Thanks to extensive NHS campaigns and early diagnosis drives, 471,233 more people were referred for cancer during this period – helping to recover the drop in people coming forward during the pandemic, when around 370,000 fewer people received checks.

Over the last 18 months, NHS staff have been working hard to recover the shortfall in cancer referrals. Now, more than a fifth more people with suspected cancer are being referred every month compared to pre-pandemic levels.

One in every four GP referrals is currently for suspected cancer, and in August alone, a quarter of a million people (255,055) were checked following an urgent GP referral in August – the highest number since records began.

Alongside the rapid recovery of services, the NHS continues to put in place extensive plans to increase early diagnosis in line with the NHS Long Term Plan ambitions – rolling out new initiatives from lung scanning trucks in the heart of local communities to high street cancer checks and cancer symptom hotlines.

NHS ‘one stop shops’ have already delivered over two million checks and tests since July 2021, including for cancer, since the rollout began, with over 90 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) offering MRI, CT and other services closer to patients’ homes, often in the heart of local communities.

Minister for Health Helen Whately said: “Thanks to the hard work of the NHS, more patients are getting checked for cancer, and getting checked sooner. Early diagnosis means people have a better chance of successful treatment so this increase in cancer checks is really important.”

Natalie Creaney