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Record year for people receiving lifesaving NHS cancer checks

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A record number of patients attended cancer checks A record number of patients attended cancer checks

Almost three million people were referred for cancer checks over the last 12 months – the highest year on record – up by over a tenth on the 2.4 million people referred before the pandemic.

NHS cancer chiefs continue to urge people to come forward as the latest data shows that record numbers of people have received vital NHS cancer tests in the last year (March 2021 – February 2022).

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Even at the peak of the Omicron wave, referrals for suspected cancer were at 116% of pre-pandemic levels with around 11,000 people getting checked every day over the last year.

‘We are going further and faster than ever before in our ambitions to diagnose more cancers at an earlier stage so that we can save more lives,’ said Dame Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director for NHS England.

‘We have seen record numbers of people coming forward for checks in the last year, but we know there are still at least 30,000 who haven’t started treatment due to the pandemic, so it’s vital that we keep these referral rates high.’

Despite pressures on hospitals due to Covid-19, the number of people being treated for the disease remained higher than before the pandemic – with 315,000 starting treatment b compared to 313,000 before the pandemic.

In order to meet increasing demand for cancer checks, NHS services across the country are expanding their diagnostic capabilities through one stop shops for tests, mobile clinics and cancer symptom hotlines, ensuring people are diagnosed and treated as early as possible to give them a much better chance of beating the disease.

More than 30,000 people every month are being invited for lung cancer checks through NHS mobile trucks visiting at risk communities across the country, as part of the biggest programme to improve early lung cancer diagnosis in health service history.

‘We know the pandemic meant that at first we saw fewer patients, but in the last year GP’s have been referring people for investigation in record numbers and have been working hard to make sure people with worrying symptoms can be seen. The NHS has continued to prioritise cancer care throughout the pandemic,’ said Professor Peter Johnson, NHS England National Clinical Director for Cancer.

‘It’s vital people continue to come forward, so if you have a sign or symptom that you’re worried about, such as a persistent cough that is not COVID, or prolonged discomfort in the abdomen, please come forward.’

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