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NHS urged to prioritise cancer care basics over tech and AI ‘magic bullets’

The NHS must concentrate on the basics of cancer treatment rather than the “magic bullets” of novel technologies and artificial intelligence, or risk the health of thousands of patients, experts have warned.

In a paper published in the journal Lancet Oncology, nine leading cancer doctors and academics say the NHS is at a tipping point in cancer care with survival rates lagging behind many other developed countries.

The NHS has not met its target for 85% of cancer patients to start treatment within two months since December 2015. International research shows that every four weeks of delay in treatment increases the risk of death by up to 10%. It means hundreds of thousands of people have to wait months to start essential cancer treatment, and only 67% begin treatment within 62 days.

The paper highlights 10 pressure points that are contributing to entrenched cancer survival inequalities, diagnosis and treatment delays, and inappropriate care.

In a sharply worded warning, the cancer experts say “novel solutions” such as new diagnostic tests have been wrongly hyped as “magic bullets” for the cancer crisis, but “none address the fundamental issues of cancer as a systems problem”.

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Source: The Guardian, 8 July 2024


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