New cancer strategy for England focuses on earlier diagnosis

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 17 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d267
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

The UK government has published a new strategy to improve the early detection and treatment of cancer in England, with the aim of increasing survival rates—which currently lag behind those in many other countries—to match the best achieved in Europe by 2014-15.

Launching the strategy, the health secretary for England, Andrew Lansley, said, “Our ambition is simple, to deliver survival rates among the best in Europe, and this strategy outlines how we will make our first steps towards this.” He said the aim is to reduce the number of deaths from cancer by 5000 each year from 2014-15.

The strategy sets out a range of actions to improve cancer outcomes, including measures to diagnose cancer earlier. GPs will be given greater direct access to tests, including chest radiography, non-obstetric ultrasonography, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, and brain magnetic resonance imaging, for patients with symptoms that might be caused by cancer.

To improve early diagnosis of cervical cancer, women with mild or borderline abnormal test results of cervical screening will be offered testing for human papilloma virus.

Mike Richards, the national clinical director for cancer, said, “We know the main reason our survival rates lag behind other countries’ is because too many people are diagnosed late.” Latest figures from the National Cancer Intelligence Network show that around one quarter of cancer patients in the UK are diagnosed as …

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