Our policy on diagnostic services

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We have created a central resources hub for Health Professionals which hosts all of our CRUK resources and further materials to help with managing the pandemic. We are updating the information as guidance changes. There is also a page specifically for patients on our about cancer hub.

Health Professional COVID-19 and Cancer Hub

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Get in touch with our policy team to find out more information about our work and our policies.

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Early diagnosis of cancer is vital if we are to improve our outcomes to amongst the best in Europe.

With an ageing population, we are likely to see rising cancer incidence and more patients: by 2035 there will be 500,000 people diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK. The combination of an ageing and growing population, plus welcome efforts to improve earlier diagnosis through more referrals, means we will need to do more tests in future. For example, by 2020 the NHS in England will need to perform 44% more endoscopies than are currently being carried out. This means an extra 750,000 procedures per year. Resolving issues with diagnostic capacity is crucial if we’re to diagnose cancer earlier.

Waiting times have increased and the services which deliver cancer tests are struggling to keep up with existing demand. Cancer Research UK has commissioned research (Imaging, Endoscopy, Pathology) on the capacity and demand for diagnostic services and these reports show we will need to train and employ more health professionals involved in delivering and interpreting cancer tests.

See our blog and news report about cancer waiting times.

See more about why early diagnosis is vital

Our campaign on diagnostic workforce

In December, Health Education England Published the first Cancer Workforce Plan, which promises over 5,000 new diagnostic and treatment staff by 2021. Cancer Alliances are now responsible for producing local plans to demonstrate how they will meet these ambitions. Join our campaign today, and help make sure these plans become a reality. 

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