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Slashing waiting times for cancer diagnosis

A rapid diagnosis centre has cut waiting times for patients with non-specific symptoms who may have cancer from 84 days to six.

It also costs less than current standard care, if used at more than 80% of capacity, new research has shown.

The study is the first complete cost-effectiveness analysis of rapid diagnosis centres (RDCs).

RDCs are now being established within the NHS, building on experience in Denmark. They are aimed at the large number of patients who have vague and non-specific symptoms that could be due to cancer, but who do not meet the criteria for urgent referral.

The researchers evaluated the RDC in Swansea Bay University Health Board (SBUHB), which has been running since June 2017 at Neath Port Talbot Hospital. Patients are referred to the RDC by their GPs.

The researchers found that average time for a cancer or non-cancer diagnosis, or to discharge from the clinic, was reduced from 84 days in usual care to under six days, if the diagnosis is made at the RDC appointment.

If further investigations are arranged in the RDC, the time to diagnosis is just over 40 days.

As long as the RDC runs at 80% capacity or over, it is less costly, as well as more effective, than standard clinical practice.

Image credit | iStock

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