Rapid diagnostic and assessment centers are being piloted to speed up cancer diagnosis and help save lives. The centers will operate in different ways allowing them to meet the needs of their local communities with the joint purpose of diagnosing cancer in patients who do not present specific symptoms for specific cancer types.
Patients who present non-specific symptoms including unexplained weight loss, appetite loss and abdominal pain can now be referred to the new assessment centers where all the necessary investigations can be conducted under one roof. Previously patients were often referred multiple times for different tests for different types of cancers.
Sara Hiom (Cancer Research UK, London) stated: “We’re confident that these ten pilot centers will give us a much better understanding of what’s needed to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of people with less obvious symptoms, improve their experience of care and ultimately survival.”
The idea is that some patients will receive a definitive diagnosis or all clear on the same day or at most 2 weeks after their first appointment. Cally Palmer (NHS England, Leeds) commented: “Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind for patients, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionize our approach to cancer in this country. These new one stop shops represent a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated.”
These centers are part of the wider plans of the NHS to improve the speed of patient cancer diagnosis, whereby patients with suspected cancer should receive a diagnosis or the all clear within 28-days.