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"One-stop" centres set to speed up diagnosis of cancer

05 April 2018 08:01

GPs can now refer patients suffering from "vague" symptoms.

GPs can now refer patients suffering from "vague" symptoms.

New "one-stop shops" to speed up cancer diagnosis are being trialled across the country for the first time.

The aim is to catch the disease earlier and prevent patients from being referred for several tests for different forms of illnesses.

"Vague symptoms" tested

GPs can refer patients suffering from "vague" symptoms, including unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain and fatigue, to assessment centres where they can undergo multiple tests for different cancers.

The initiative aims to ensure a quick diagnosis in those not showing "alarm" signs for a specific type of cancer, NHS England said.

Some patients will be able to receive a definitive diagnosis or be given the all-clear on the same day, while others may require further tests but should receive a result within two weeks.

NHS England has developed the centres in collaboration with the cancer charities Macmillan and Cancer Research UK. It is currently being piloted in ten areas.

"Crucial to saving lives"

Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director at NHS England, said: "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 people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated."

Patients with unexplained weight loss, appetite loss, abdominal discomfort or pain, fatigue, sweating or who feel generally unwell could be referred to the service.

The symptoms, alone or combined, can indicate several diseases including cancer.

Cancer Research UK's Director of Early Diagnosis, Sara Hiom, said: "We're confident that these ten pilot centres will give us a much better understanding of what's needed to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of people with less obvious symptoms, improve their experience of care and, ultimately, survival."

The ten trial centres are at: North Middlesex University Hospital, University College London Hospital, Southend University Hospital, Queen's Hospital, Royal Free Hospital, St James's University Hospital, Airedale General Hospital, University Hospital South Manchester, Royal Oldham Hospital, and Churchill Hospital.

Holidaymakers suffering from cancer should sort out the appropriate travel insurance before jetting off.