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NHS hit nearly 3 million cancer checks last year

NHS hit nearly 3 million cancer checks last year
By Jess Hacker
2 January 2024

Nearly 3 million cancer checks took place in the last 12 months, new data has shown.

According to NHS data, 2.9 million people were seen for urgent cancer checks between November 2022 and October 2023 – the highest year on record, and up by 147,960 on the year before and up by 622,562 on the same period before the pandemic.

And there has been a 133% increase in the number of people getting checked for cancer over the last decade, with 1.2 million urgent cancer referrals between November 2012 and October 2013.

Analysis showed that October 2023 the highest month on record for cancer checks, with 269,492 taking place. The same month also saw more than seven-in-10 people (192,889) receive an all clear or a definitive diagnosis for cancer within one month.

And for the first time, rapid registration data showed 58% of cancers were diagnosed at stage one or two between September 2022 and August 2023: around 2.1% points above the level before the pandemic.

Responding to new analysis by NHS England, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Sir Julian Hartley said: ‘Cancer is a top priority for trust leaders who know the risks to patients who have to wait longer than needed for their care.

‘Hard work by trust leaders and their teams has meant that the NHS is seeing more people for urgent cancer checks and making good progress on diagnosing cancer earlier.

‘But trusts know there is still a long way to go.

‘Despite severe staff shortages and the mismatch between capacity and demand, which is having a knock-on impact on cancer services as well as other stretched services across hospital, mental  health, community and ambulance services, trusts will continue to do everything they can to see patients as quickly as possible.’

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