NHS England announces record number of cancer checks in 2018
Today (Tuesday 23 April 2019) NHS England released figures that show that in 2018, patients underwent a record 2.2 million cancer checks following urgent referral by their GP. This is an increase of almost a quarter of a million on the 1.9 million people who were seen in 2017.
The number of patients referred for suspected lower GI cancers (which include bowel cancer) had increased by 16% in a single year.
NHS England attribute the rise in referrals to a number of factors, including new guidance introduced in 2015 for GPs, lowering the threshold for cancer referral and more awareness raising than ever before with high profile celebrities such as our such as our Patron, BBC’s Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen sharing their own cancer diagnoses.
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK said "It’s good news that more people than ever before are being referred for diagnostic testing as early diagnosis is often critical for successful treatment. However that needs to be accompanied by investment in the diagnostic workforce which is currently critically overstretched, an issue highlighted by our Capacity Crisis campaign.
The significant delay in rolling out the simpler to use and potentially more sensitive bowel cancer screening test in England, can in part be attributed to this lack of investment in workforce or a clear plan to address it. This must be remedied urgently as the new test provides the best possible opportunity for an early diagnosis of bowel cancer. "