ACE Programme overview and timeline

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The ACE Programme is an early diagnosis programme that supports the NHS outcome of ‘preventing people from dying prematurely’.

It is a unique initiative supported by Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support and will run across England for 3 years.

The ACE Programme aims to develop the knowledge base on early diagnosis, evaluating and spreading good practice, to inform cancer commissioning in England, specifically:

  1. A shift from late to early diagnosis of cancer at stages I & II
  2. A decrease in cancer diagnoses via emergency presentations
  3. Improvements in overall patient experience

Wave 1 will run until mid-2017.

Wave 2 will run until late-2018.

ACE timeline graphic

Key concepts currently being explored by ACE projects include:

  1. Straight to test diagnostic pathways and simplified one stop clinics
  2. Symptom specific pathways such as multidisciplinary diagnostic centres
  3. Overcoming barriers to screening uptake


Wave 1

The first wave of the programme incorporates 60 projects which are currently exploring innovative concepts such as referral pathways from primary care professionals other than GPs, primary care engagement to overcome barriers to cancer screening and how best to streamline lung cancer diagnostic pathways, amongst others.

Wave 2

The second wave of the programme this year plans to run six pilots in England trialling a new one-stop diagnostic pathway for patients with non-specific but concerning symptoms; an approach incorporating a Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Centre (MDC). As recommended in the Independent Cancer Taskforce report, published last year, the pilots aim to test the effectiveness of the referral route in the NHS in England.

Read the Independent Cancer Taskforce report

The first set of outputs are now available.

These outputs are specific to each Cluster, and in the first instance will be practical, including items such as: ‘How to’ implementation guides e.g. for triage based straight to test services.


Summary of findings for Case studies ACE outputs will be published and disseminated through SCNs and other cancer commissioning networks. If you would like to be notified of the ACE outputs, please email the team with your area of interest.

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The clinical and economic evaluation, conducted by the Department of Health’s Policy Research Units, is expected to be completed by Spring 2017, and will provide further evidence for the 2017/18 commissioning round. If ACE’s programmatic approach proves successful, then future calls for projects may be made.

ACE is a NHS England initiative with support from Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

ACE is funded by Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS England and the Department of Health's Policy Research Units. As ACE provides only limited financial support to projects, the majority of project funding has come from local, mostly NHS sources.

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Email the team for more information or to hear about ACE outputs when they become available.

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