Today NHS England will roll out plans for a 28-day diagnosis target for people with suspected cancer. Under the new rules, from April 2018 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will have 28 days to ensure patients with suspected cancer are diagnosed or the disease is ruled out.
Target Ovarian Cancer’s Pathfinder study revealed that nearly half of women are experiencing delays of up to three months while they wait for a correct ovarian cancer diagnosis. A slow route through testing, delays in referrals and lack of investment in the system is resulting in women being diagnosed late – when the cancer is harder to treat.
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “We applaud NHS England for introducing the new 28-day diagnosis target, but unless we see an immediate change in NICE guidance on diagnostic testing, it will be nigh-on impossible to achieve in ovarian cancer. Current guidance in England requires diagnostic tests to happen one after another, leading to further delays. Concurrent testing, as already happens in Scotland, will be needed to meet the 28-day target. Without this change, women with ovarian cancer will continue to be overlooked and suffer the consequences of late-stage diagnosis.”
Early diagnosis is key in ovarian cancer, with 90 per cent of UK women surviving five years if diagnosed at the earliest stage, compared with 46 per cent on average. This doubling in survival could happen for more women if a 28-day target was achieved.