The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has announced an investment of £20m to expedite the rollout of ‘skin snaps’ and rapid tests for same-day cancer diagnoses.
This fast-tracked launch is intended to increase access for more people.
A technology called ‘Teledermatology’ will be leveraged to detect skin cancer. A medical photographer will take pictures to be sent to hospitals to offer quick diagnosis and treatment.
This method is used in Leeds, York and Mid-Yorkshire, where doctors review an image of the patient’s skin to offer a diagnosis.
The NHS noted that efforts to accelerate diagnosis for prostate cancer involve the referral of patients for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan directly by nurses without waiting for an appointment with a doctor.
This procedure has cut down the number of visits, with all diagnostic testing conducted on the same day.
As per the NHS Long Term Plan, these methods will aid in detecting three-quarters of cancers at the early stage, an increase from present detections of half, which will allow for easier treatment.
Furthermore, the latest NHS funding will enable the targeting of more patients and support cancer services in handling the increased numbers of referred people.
It will also strengthen ‘lumps and bumps clinics’ led by nurses, that will provide examinations and single-day ultrasounds.
These clinics will offer a cancer symptom hotline, through which patients can receive advice from nurses on cancer symptoms and book referrals over the phone.
NHS national director for cancer Dame Cally Palmer said: “From cancer symptom hotlines to skin snaps and rapid triage, NHS staff are once again going to great lengths to ensure that those who are coming forward for checks can continue to be seen quickly, so that cancer can be caught at an earlier stage.”
Meanwhile, the UK has opened its first testing mega lab, the Rosalind Franklin laboratory in Royal Leamington Spa, which will process thousands of Covid-19 samples daily.
Under the country’s NHS Test and Trace network, the lab will leverage advanced technology to process more tests as well as use the new genotype assay testing to rapidly detect variants of concern and new mutations of SARS-CoV-2, which will contribute to curbing the virus spread.