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NHS England is rolling-out fast-track cancer testing, which could detect tens of thousands of cancers sooner each year. Direct access to diagnostic scans is being made accessible across all GP practices, helping cut waiting times and speeding up the diagnosis of cancer.
From this month, every GP team will start to be able to directly order CT scans, ultrasounds or brain MRIs for patients with concerning symptoms, but who fall outside the NICE guidelines for an urgent referral for suspected cancer. By enabling GPs to order these tests directly, the scheme could help cut down waiting times to as little as 4 weeks. This would also fee up hundreds of thousands of hospital appointments and help to address the Covid backlog.
About 67,000 people will now be eligible for the fast track scheme, giving them a better chance of detecting cancer earlier when the chance of survival is greater. This will also offer peace of mind to those with concerning symptoms by letting them know they are cancer free.
Urgent cancer referrals have been at record levels since March 2021, with over a quarter of a million people checked following an urgent GP referral in August – the highest number since records began.