Government aim to boost cancer survival rates with new scheme

Dr Ross Cameron
Dr Ross Cameron

NHS Borders medical director, Dr Ross Cameron, has welcomed the launch of a new government initiative to enhance the early detection of cancer.

The plan to increase the number of Scots diagnosed in the earliest stages of cancer by 25 per cent in a bid to improve cancer survival rates for patients in Scotland was announced on Monday by Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The draft Detect Cancer Early Implementation Plan - published for consultation with the NHS, clinicians, cancer charities and key third sector groups - will aim to save more than 300 lives a year by the end of the next Parliamentary term.

As announced by Ms Sturgeon in March, the Scottish Government has set aside £30m from the extra £1 billion committed to the health budget during the next four years, to support implementation of the plan and improvements in cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Action will initially concentrate on tackling the three most common cancers in Scotland - breast, bowel and lung cancer, with a focus on:

•Improving informed consent and participation in national screening programmes to help detect cancer earlier and improve survival rates

•Raising the public’s awareness of these screening programmes and also the early signs and symptoms of cancer to encourage them to seek help earlier

•Working with GPs to promote earlier referral or investigation of patients who may show a suspicion of cancer

•Ensuring there is sufficient capacity in the screening programmes to meet the expected increase in those choosing to take part

•Helping imaging, investigation departments and treatment centres to prepare for an increase in the number of patients with early disease requiring treatment.

•Strengthening data collection and performance reporting within NHS Scotland to ensure progress continues to be made on improving cancer diagnosis, treatment, referral and survival.

And Dr Cameron said he thought the initiative would go a long way in saving people’s lives.

He commented: “NHS Borders welcomes the Scottish Government initiative to enhance the early detection of cancer.

“It is so important that people take up the screening services offered for cervical, breast and bowel cancer.

“We know that if we can find and treat these cancers in the early stages, people have a better chance of complete recovery.

“Advances in screening and treatment have already made a significant impact on cancer survival rates.

“This additional investment in screening programmes and services will enable us to detect and treat more early stage cancers, and so will improve survival rates further.”

The launch of the scheme comes in the same week that a review of the national breast screening programme - the first since it began more than two decades ago was launched by the National Services Division of NHS National Services Scotland.

This will ensure it remains a clinically and cost effective service for women - who will be invited to contribute their views via a questionnaire.