NHS patients in England should get results for cancer tests within four weeks of being referred by a GP by 2020 under new plans to improve treatment. NHS England’s cancer taskforce is also recommending improved molecular diagnostics including testing for hereditary cancer, and increasing specialist staff to ensure it delivers “world class” cancer care.
The five-year plan will cost £400m a year but experts say earlier treatment will result in similar savings. They say the plan could help an extra 30,000 patients survive for 10 years. While survival rates have been improving, England still lags behind some of the best performing countries.
Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK and chairman of NHS England’s task force, said the changes could help create a “world class” service over the coming years. “We have an opportunity to save many thousands of lives from cancer.”
About testing for Lynch Syndrome, as well as Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, in this report:
“Recommendation 36: NHS commissioners should ensure that:
• All patients under the age of 50 receiving a bowel cancer diagnosis are offered a genetic test for Lynch Syndrome.
• All women with non-mucinous epithelial ovarian cancer are offered testing for BRCA1/BRCA2 at the point of diagnosis.
• All women under the age of 50 diagnosed with breast cancer are offered testing for BRCA1/BRCA2 at the point of diagnosis.
These tests will enable any family members at high risk to be identified and active surveillance programmes put in place. Where applicable, positive tests should guide decisions on the most clinically and cost-effective prevention interventions or treatments.”
The report recommends guidelines are updated about the use of chemoprotective agents, such as aspirin in Lynch Syndrome (Recommendation 7).
Other plans include:
The publication of the five-year strategy comes after a cross-party group of MPs warned that cancer services had “lost momentum” in the past two years.