Record numbers of people are coming forward for cancer tests, with almost a quarter of a million referrals in one month, NHS England has announced.
The figures show that 246,000 people were checked for cancer in November – three times as many compared to the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020, when people were reluctant to come forward. Previous research found that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, half (49%) of people said they would delay coming forward because they didn’t want to burden the health service.
‘We are going further and faster than ever before in our ambitions to catch more cancers at an earlier stage so that we can save more lives,’ said Dame Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director for NHS England.
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‘From cancer symptom hotlines to rapid triage, NHS staff are working hard to ensure that those who are coming forward for checks can be seen quickly, so that cancer can be caught at an earlier stage”.
Monthly figures also show that more than nine in ten people received their first treatment within a month – a standard that has not dipped below 90% throughout the pandemic despite the NHS treating more than half a million COVID patients and delivering 114 million vaccinations to date.
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‘When coronavirus first emerged, we saw patient numbers drop dramatically as people stayed away because of fear of the virus, or because they didn’t want to burden the NHS, despite experiencing cancer symptoms – but it’s vital people continue to come forward,’ said Professor Peter Johnson, NHS England National Clinical Director for Cancer.
‘The NHS continued cancer care throughout the pandemic and that remains the same. So, if you have a sign or symptom, such as a persistent cough that is not COVID, or prolonged discomfort in the abdomen, please come forward – we are open and ready to see and treat you.’