IT playing key role in England’s new cancer diagnosis centres

A series of cancer diagnosis ‘one-stop shops’ is being rolled out across England, with digital health technology playing an important role in hastening diagnosis.

The rapid diagnostic and assessment centres are being piloted in 10 areas as part of NHS England’s drive to improve cancer outcomes through faster diagnosis.

Each cancer centre will operate in a different way to ensure it meets the needs of its communities.

But they will all be on the look-out for people who don’t have ‘alarm symptoms’ for certain cancer types.

Instead, the centres will test people with vague, non-specific symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, appetite loss, or abdominal pain, who are often referred several times for different tests for different cancers.

The centres will be run with input from the charities Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Outlines of the different projects published on the Cancer Research UK website show that digital health technology will play a role in many of the centres.

For instance, several of the projects will use electronic Cancer Decision Support Tools developed by Macmillan to provide earlier diagnosis and help identify or flag high-risk patients.

These work by identifying risks based on patient record information, including symptoms, medical history, and demographic data.

Cally Palmer, National Director for Cancer at NHS England, said: “Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind for patients, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionise our approach to cancer in this country. These new one-stop shops represent a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated.”

The 10 centres are located at:

North Middlesex University Hospital, University College London Hospital, Southend University Hospital, Queens Hospital, Royal Free Hospital, St James University Hospital, Airedale General Hospital, University Hospital South Manchester, Royal Oldham Hospital,  and Churchill Hospital.

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