NHS England today announced its £15m plan for all cancer patients to be diagnosed within 28 days of referral by a GP.
Its proposals said that more that GPs made 1.5 million urgent referrals for suspected cancer last year, an increase of 50% in the last four years.
Last year, NICE guidelines lowered the threshold of symptoms for when GPs should refer someone to be tested for cancer.
The five-year plan for cancer diagnosis and treatment includes an aim for patients referred for cancer tests to be diagnosed with cancer, or have cancer ruled out, within four weeks.
Five local health communities will test the ‘faster diagnosis standard’.
Cally Palmer, national cancer director for England, said: ‘Cancer survival rates have never been higher and we have some excellent cancer services in this country with dedicated and professional staff, but we know there is more we can do.’
One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer and too many people are being diagnosed when their cancer is advanced, she added.
NHS England has announced an initial £15m to support earlier and faster diagnosis of cancer. This programme will include creating a “national diagnostics capacity fund” to increase capacity and productivity of diagnostic services and trialling new multidisciplinary diagnostic centres over the next two years.
A spokesman for the British Medical Association, said: ‘We will be examining the detail behind this recommendation when more information becomes available.’