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Pilot scheme speeds up cancer diagnosis

This article is more than four years old.

New 'one stop shops' designed to speed up cancer diagnosis and help save lives are being rolled out across the country - including at the Churchill Hospital.

NHS England's Accelerate, Co-ordinate, Evaluate (ACE) programme is testing innovative ways of diagnosing cancer earlier - it is being piloted in 10 areas including Oxford.

It adopts the Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Centre (MDC) concept from Denmark so patients can have several diagnostic tests in one location, at the same time, for a faster diagnosis.

The aim is to help patients with vague or non-specific symptoms which in some cases can be the signs of cancer or other serious illnesses.

The Oxford pilot, which is called the Suspected CANcer (SCAN) pathway, includes:

  • rapid diagnostic imaging using a CT (Computed Tomography) scan
  • laboratory tests
  • further testing or an appointment with a specialist depending on the results of the initial scans and lab tests.

Professor Fergus Gleeson, Professor of Radiology and Divisional Director for Clinical Support Services at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The aim of our pilot scheme is for patients to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment faster.

"Vague symptoms such as weight loss and tiredness can be the signs of a serious illness, such as cancer, and so it is important that we can diagnose patients more quickly.

"Our pilot scheme is a really good example of how clinicians in primary and secondary care are working together closely to improve the patient pathway."

Cally Palmer, National Director for Cancer at NHS England, added: "Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind for patients, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionise our approach to cancer in this country.

"These new one stop shops represent a real step change in the way that people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated."

Health Minister Steve Brine praised the Oxford SCAN pathway after visiting the Churchill Hospital in February 2018.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate, he said: "I, as a cancer Minister, and we as a Government are very excited about ACE. It is about taking patients with suspected cancer from the GP and into the accelerated diagnostic centre and getting them a diagnosis or clearance quickly. I met patients (at the Churchill Hospital) and saw how much it means to them."

More information about the Oxford SCAN pathway is available on the Oxford University Hospitals website:

Referral information | Radiology: Suspected CANcer (SCAN) pathway

Video on YouTube: Suspected CANcer (SCAN) diagnostic pathway

Patient information leaflet: Suspected CANcer (SCAN) pathway

Video and leaflet produced by Oxford Medical Illustration (OMI)