The Government is to invest £800 million in a new cancer strategy it hopes will save 5,000 lives a year.
The drive will focus on early diagnosis to improve survival rates in the UK – which are inferior to many European countries. The investment will also pay for an additional 1,200 cancer specialists.
Some £10 million has been earmarked for a cancer awareness campaign, which will highlight cancer symptoms and encourage people to see a doctor at the earliest opportunity.
Other measures are expected to include £50 million for additional cancer drugs, a £200 million cancer drugs fund until 2013, an expansion of radiotherapy services and the introduction of bowel cancer screening technology.
At the same time, under previously announced plans, GPs will be able to send patients directly for diagnostic tests without referral first to a consultant.
At the moment, some GPs have access to tests in primary care, including chest X-rays, but other scans have to be ordered by a specialist in hospital – meaning the patient gets referred there first by their GP.
Under the new plans, GPs will be able to order tests themselves, which might include ultrasounds for ovarian cancer, MRI scans for brain tumours and colonoscopies for bowel cancer.
Doctors will still have the option to send patients through the rapid referral system to see a specialist within two weeks.
Copyright © Press Association 2011