NHS hits cancer diagnosis target for the first time in 18 months

Three-quarters of people with suspected cancer found out the reality within four weeks – the first time the target has been met. The Faster Diagnosis Standard was introduced 18 months ago but the goal has been continually missed, with the level falling as low as 63.8 percent in January 2022.

However, the benchmark of 75 percent of patients receiving a ­diagnosis or having the disease ruled out within 28 days of a referral was finally hit – precisely – in February, the latest month for data.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay told the Daily Express: “While more people than ever are surviving cancer, we need to do more to stop this disease devastating lives.

“Identifying cancer early, when it is easier to treat, is the key to improving survival rates.

“So I welcome the news that the Faster Diagnosis Standard has been met for the first time.”

The rollout of more than 90 local centres where patients can quickly receive tests and the use of the latest technology is thought to have contributed to the milestone.

But other key cancer targets are still being missed. Only 58 percent of patients began treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral for suspected cancer, against a target of 85 percent.

Mr Barclay added: “We are ­investing in the latest technology, including AI, to improve diagnostics, and are opening over 90 new community diagnostic centres across the country, helping to boost progress on the ­Government’s key ­priority to cut NHS waiting lists.

“We will also soon be unveiling our new Major Conditions Strategy, setting out a bold plan to improve outcomes for patients with cancer and other diseases.”

It comes after a report revealed cancer operations slumped more in Britain than almost anywhere in western Europe during the ­pandemic’s first year – 2020.

Prostate cancer ops tumbled by more than 40 percent, against an average of 16.6 percent on the near continent, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found.

Mastectomies fell by 15.2 percent, against an 8.5 percent average, with other breast cancer operations sliding by 23.6 percent. Only Ireland had a worse record. Here, hysterectomies, used to treat womb cancer, plunged by 36.4 percent, the highest among peer nations.

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