DoH outlines £25m cancer checks fund

A fund to improve GP access to cancer scans will provide up to 150,000 extra tests a year, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said.

Mr Lansley: GPs need fast and direct access to the right diagnostic tests

The measures, announced on Monday, are designed to improve the UK’s early cancer diagnosis, which lags behind the rest of Europe.

Speaking at the Britain Against Cancer conference on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Lansley confirmed the scheme would be backed by £25m in 2011/12. It is estimated the fund will pay for 150,000 additional checks.

This will hand GPs access to non-obstetric ultrasound for the diagnosis of ovarian cancer; flexible sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy for the diagnosis of bowel cancer; and brain MRI scans for the diagnosis of brain cancer.

Mr Lansley said: ‘A typical GP may see only eight or nine new patients with cancer every year, but they may see hundreds presenting with symptoms that could be cancer.

‘So we need to give them the support, the resources and the authority they need to reduce delays in diagnosis. And that includes fast and direct access to the right diagnostic tests.’

The measures follow the government’s intention to fund a £60m investment in flexible sigmoidoscopy for bowel cancer screening, which could save up to 3,000 lives a year.

In January, the DoH will launch an awareness campaign on spotting the early signs and symptoms of breast, lung and bowel cancers.

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