Our Policy on imaging capacity

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Whilst cancer survival is at its highest ever level, our health services are under considerable pressure. Increasing cancer incidence, an ageing population and efforts to improve outcomes means that the demand for cancer diagnostics has never been higher.

There were nearly 357,000 new cancer cases in the UK in 2014. This is set to increase so by 2035, there will be over 500,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

Imaging services, as well as endoscopy and pathology, have been delivering more activity over recent years but they are currently struggling to meet demand – leading to a diagnostic bottleneck and thousands of patients waiting in limbo. Ensuring diagnostic services can cope with future demand is essential if we are to improve outcomes for patients through early diagnosis.

Imaging plays a major role in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as well as many other conditions. Imaging tests such as MRI, CT and X-Ray are all used to investigate potential cancer symptoms.

Cancer Research UK commissioned research to understand the pressures facing imaging services in England and to identify solutions to address these issues. The work, conducted by 2020 Delivery, involved interviews and modelling of future demand.

Horizon Scanning: an evaluation of imaging capacity across the NHS in England recommends increased investment in diagnostics services, addressing workforce shortages and ensuring there is sufficient and up-to-date scanning equipment.

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