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More than 65,000 people are left waiting to find out if it’s cancer each month

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New calculations from Cancer Research UK estimate that, on average, over 65,000 people in England are left waiting longer than 28 days to find out whether they have cancer each month.

These estimates are based on the latest data from the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS). The FDS is a performance standard introduced by Government in 2021. It’s used to better capture how long people on certain cancer-related referrals wait for a diagnosis.

This applies to people referred by their GP urgently with suspected cancer, following breast symptoms, or have been picked up through cancer screening.

The current FDS target is set at 75%, meaning three quarters of people being urgently referred should be told they have cancer or given the all-clear within that timeframe. However, this target has yet to be met.

In addition, the data has revealed major variation across the country – with only 78 of 143 trusts meeting the 75% target. This means that despite the tireless efforts of NHS staff, chronic capacity issues mean that people continue to be failed by the system.

Michelle Mitchell, our chief executive, said: “As a country we should not be willing to accept that over 1 in 4 people on an urgent referral are left waiting over a month to find out whether they have cancer. Nor should we stand for the variation that exists across the country.”

The charity is calling on Government to include a more ambitious target within its upcoming 10-year cancer plan, to help ensure around 54,300 more people each month receive a diagnosis or have cancer ruled out within a month.

With a robust plan and sustained investment to build a cancer workforce fit for the future, patients will be diagnosed quicker and earlier, which will save more lives.

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Source: Cancer Research UK, 9 May 2022

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