An innovative new pathway to reduce the length of time to diagnose cancer patients has been launched in Bedford and Milton Keynes.
Delay in the diagnosis of cancer is thought to be one of the contributors to poorer survival rates in the UK. Patients who are suffering from symptoms which could indicate several different cancers often go back and forth between primary and secondary care which can eventually lead to delays in diagnosis and poorer outcomes for the patient.
The Non-Specific Symptoms (NSS) pathway aims to help these patients by providing a route to reduce the length of time to diagnosis. If a patient is referred to this dedicated pathway, a virtual Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) consisting of a range of specialists will determine the most appropriate next steps for the patient.
A 64-year-old woman was referred to the NSS pathway suffering with a range of symptoms including weight loss, fatigue and weakness in her upper limbs. The patient had previously seen her GP over 10 times and had been referred to many different services for investigations.
The introduction of the NSS pathway allowed her case and all investigations to be reviewed by an MDT, further investigations to be carried out and an appropriate decision to be made on her care.
Dr Rory Harvey, Lead Clinician NSS pathway, said:
“Timing is incredibly important when it comes to diagnosing and treating cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed the better the outcome for the patient.
“Sometimes presenting symptoms do not clearly point to a primary cancer site or investigations of a site prove unrevealing, in both these circumstances the NSS pathway provides a concerned GP and the patient access to a specific diagnostic service.
“The pathway is enabling these patients to be assessed by a Multi-Disciplinary Team of specialists, to assess the possibility of a cancer or other serious diagnosis, to explain their symptoms, and to enable rapid access to appropriate treatment.”