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The Suspected CANcer (SCAN) pathway

Many patients visit their GP with 'vague' symptoms such as weight loss and tiredness. These symptoms are called 'non-specific' as they affect the whole person.

Often the cause of these symptoms remains unclear after GP assessment. There is commonly a minor cause for such symptoms. However, there is a small chance that they could be the signs of a serious illness, such as cancer. Therefore, these symptoms are often called 'low-risk but not no-risk' symptoms.

At present, GPs do not have a way to get rapid investigations for patients with 'non-specific' symptoms. Patients can go back and forth between their GP and the hospital many times until a diagnosis is made; this takes time with diagnoses and treatment potentially delayed. Although the risk of serious disease is low, a delay in diagnosis and treatment may have a negative effect on the patients' health and overall wellbeing.

The Oxford Radiology Research Unit (ORRU) and the Radiology department at the Churchill Hospital are running the Suspected CANcer (SCAN) pathway which involves:

  • rapid access to Computed Tomography (CT) scanning
  • laboratory tests (blood and faeces tests)
  • any further tests if needed.

Dependent on these results, an appointment with a Doctor working in a Multi Diagnostic Clinic (MDC) is arranged. The aim is to reach a diagnosis and begin treatment as quickly as possible.

We are now conducting the second phase of a programme called ACE (Accelerate, Co-ordinate, Evaluate). We have been working closely with primary and secondary care clinicians who are keen to improve cancer care, to design a new diagnostic pathway for patients in Oxfordshire with these 'non-specific' symptoms.

Our team

ORRU / Radiology Department

  • Gabriele AbuEid
    Research Nurse
  • Hannah Pointing
    Senior Radiographer/SCAN Navigator
  • Julie-Ann Moreland
    Senior Radiographer/SCAN Navigator
  • Dr Rachel Benamore
    Consultant Radiologist/Clinical Director of Radiology
  • Professor Niall Moore
    Consultant Radiologist
  • Professor Fergus Gleeson
    Consultant Radiologist


  • Zoe Kaveney
    Project Manager
  • Dr Shelley Hayles
    Cancer Lead for the OCCG

Nuffield Department of Primary Care

  • Dr Jason Oke
    Health Economist
  • Dr Claire Friedemann-Smith
  • Dr Brian Nicholson
    Macmillan Cancer Care GP and clinical researcher

MDC clinicians

  • Dr Daniel Mitchener
    Consultant of General Medicine
  • Dr Alexandra Montagu
    Consultant Gerontologist
  • Dr Sarah Smith
    Consultant Gerontologist
  • Dr Maggie Hammersley
    Consultant of General Medicine
  • Professor Daniel Lasserson
    Consultant of Acute Medicine and Ambulatory Care


"One of the reasons we are running this project is because we diagnose late in this country, the later we diagnose, the harder cancer is to treat. If we can diagnose earlier we can potentially save a lot of lives and enhance the quality of lives."

Last reviewed:21 August 2023